So, what are WebMD's strong and weak points as an online provider of health information? Read on and find out.
No medical bills to cover -- WebMD is free to sign up for and use.
Become a pill pro -- Check common drugs for side effects and other advisories before you buy them, in order to know if they're safe for you to use or not.
No quacks here -- WebMD's information is accredited by the largest health verification board in the United States, so most of it is fairly reliable.
Find out what you might be coming down with -- The "Symptom Checker" feature helps you figure out what might be the cause of a health problem you're having, so you can have an informed discussion with your doctor about what your next steps should be.
Find where to go for your health needs -- WebMD contains local directories of hospitals, pharmacies, and physicians, so you'll know where to go if you ever have an emergency while out of town.
Ads are the price of admission -- Since WebMD is a free service, you're going to see advertisements all over the place. Do your best to ignore them.
Remember that your health isn't something to be bought -- Some people say that WebMD favours some products or companies over others when it comes to their advice, because of their corporate partnerships. While we can't confirm or deny that, we will say to think critically about anything that you read, especially on the Internet.
Be sure to get a second opinion -- While WebMD's "Symptom Checker" (or any other piece of information or advice on WebMD) is a good starting point when it comes to figuring out what might be ailing you, remember that it is in no way meant to outright replace your doctor. Only a trained physician is able to accurately diagnose you, so once you've checked out some possibilities on WebMD, be sure to follow up by discussing them with your associated health care professional.
While it's easy to be skeptical of a website offering health information in a place like the Internet, where it seems like almost anything goes, WebMD stands on pretty solid ground. Despite allegations of bias in its advice columns (which -- let's face it -- are bound to come up, since WebMD is a free service that relies on advertising to pay the bills), it's primarily a website about information: what common drugs do, where to find a doctor, or what you might be coming down with. Though not meant to replace a doctor, WebMD might give you the information you need to help your doctor best take care of you.
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