The Great WebMD Conspiracy Theory

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I’m uninsured, so I admittedly try to do a lot of self-diagnosing and avoid expensive trips to my primary care doctor/retail clinic/urgent care/emergency room.

I’ve had a sore throat for a few days now and just went to WebMD.com in hopes of getting a little reassurance that it’s not strep.

And to my surprise, WebMD seems to be hiding its Symptom Checker tool. You have to really dig on their web site in order to find it. It’s on the left as a tiny little square link 3/4 of the way down the home page.

The Symptom Checker feature was the thing that really “made” WebMD. Why are they backing away from it? Was there a lawsuit? A letter from the FDA or FTC? New ownership? Threats from angry doctors? Well then. Makes you wonder. Either that or I’m thinking too much because I’m high on Throat Coat tea.

7 Responses to “The Great WebMD Conspiracy Theory”

  1. benji

    Didn’t webmd go through an ownership change? That could explain the change in steering.

    Reply
  2. benji

    By the way I’m a stage performer and my entire troupe swears by throat coat tea.

    Reply
  3. SW Pilot

    Here’s a direct link to the Symptom Checker: http://symptoms.webmd.com/default.htm

    It’s probable that the Symptom Checker doesn’t bring in a lot of ad revenue whereas all the other site content offers lots more ad capabilities which is where the money comes from.

    I can’t find anything that indicates WebMD has been “sold” in the last few years. The closest I found is that the business is doing very well and the execs have been selling their shares to receive pretty nice pay-outs (while still remaining with the company). Source: http://online.barrons.com/article/SB126937925820666649.html

    Reply
  4. Katrina Gawab

    Hypothetically speaking, WebMD’s Symptom Checker is a well purposed and useful tool. Expect for the fact that the illnesses the Symptom Checker often says you have turn it from helpful to scary very quickly. Especially when the user is like I, already a bit of a hypochondriac. Case in point: Today I have a sore throat, body aches, possibly a fever, and some really weird cramp-y pain thing in the top part of my stomach right under my ribs. I was also feeling nauseous all day. Being that it’s not far from my bedtime, I should have just made some tea and napped in front of the TV. Instead I went to the WebMD Symptom Checker, which told me I have some form of stomach cancer or a degenerative intestinal disease. Great! I do not feel informed or comforted, I am now paranoid. It is for that reason I think WebMD’s Symptom Checker *should* be hidden far, far away from people like myself.

    Reply
  5. Live from Englewood CO

    Hi, I think your blog could be having web browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, excellent site! I especially like the blog about H & R Block and Web MD.

    Reply
  6. Harold F. Hathaway

    Upon further research, I found that the medical community, particularly the American Medical Association lobbied hard against webMD’s responsibility for a new condition called Cyberchondria. Investigations have described it as a complusive need to search the web for possible matches to symptoms.

    I found you when I Googled what happened to webMD symptom checker!

    -Harry

    Reply

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