44 stories

Millions of people are turning to the Web before their doctor to suggest a diagnosis from among their symptoms. A first-time study of such tools by Harvard Medical School researchers indicates that some can get diagnoses right, but not all the time, Felice Freyer reports in the Boston Globe. There’s also a wide variation in quality, researchers found. Their advice: When checking online, proceed with care.More →

Several companies are making it easier to consult a doctor via smartphone, swapping text messages and video chat for an appointment and waiting-room visit. But the fact that many health plans didn’t cover such services limited their reach.

That’s changing — on Thursday, insurance company UnitedHealthcare announced plans to include phone or video consults in its coverage network. American Well, a telemedicine service based in Boston, is one of three providers approved for UHC’s system.More →

Steven Keating’s appetite for knowledge may well be the reason he’s alive.

In 2007, his high-minded curiosity drove him to get his brain scanned while studying mechanical engineering at Queens University in Canada. The scans revealed a faint abnormality near the part of his brain responsible for processing the sense of smell. But since his health otherwise seemed normal, Keating thought nothing of it.

But seven years later, while a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, Keating experienced an odd sensation: Several times he detected a whiff of vinegar — a phantom odor, it would turn out — but the feeling would quickly pass.

With those earlier images in mind, Keating urged doctors to again scan his brain, and this time the results revealed a fist-size tumor. Within three weeks, Keating underwent a 10-hour surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where doctors extracted the tumor in golf ball-size chunks.More →

A failure of habit ails patients with chronic conditions — a full 50 percent of them have trouble following their prescribed course of treatment.

Boston firm MediSafe is among the groups trying to fight back that trend — the company makes an app that reminds people to take their pills on time. This week the company announced it is adding the ability to track glucose levels and blood pressure within the app, an addition that is expected to give its 1.5 million users additional incentive to follow their treatment regime.More →