Would you take a 'medical selfie' if it could save your life?

Taking a selfie is usually associated with vanity but there is be a very good reason to take one: it could save your life.

New research from the UK has shown that patient-produced videos and photos improved GPs’ understanding of their patient’s condition.

It’s a growing movement that is changing health care. Think about it: when you go to the doctor, sometimes it can be difficult to describe what symptoms you have, or exhibit them on the spot. But now, with the advent of smart phones and devices, it is becoming more normal to video yourself coughing or wheezing, or to take a photo of a rash or mole that is concerning you.

According to QUT PhD researcher Kara Burns, both patients and doctors can benefit from this “medical selfie” trend.

She said your photographic evidence could provide your doctor with vital information they might otherwise miss.

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Earlier this year, Canadian woman Stacey Yepes used her mobile phone to capture an episode of her suffering slurred speech and facial paralysis, leading to a diagnosis of a stroke.

Interestingly, Ms Yepes had already been to the doctor and they had not diagnosed her with having a stroke, so the medical selfie effectively saved her life. It should be noted that if you think you’re experiencing a stroke, you should call for an ambulance immediately.

Telstra’s ReadyCare video service acts much in the same way, by showing the doctor your symptoms via video link.

Medical selfies can also be a useful way to monitor skin spots between check-ups, and compare images to see if there are any changes.

“Taking a photo with a large-format digital camera with the appropriate macro lens and correct, even lighting will always be better than something you take on your phone,” Ms Burns said.

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“However I do think photos taken on phones are adequate for doctors to use as part of a whole range of ways to diagnose a patient”.

Showing evidence to your doctor can also make you feel empowered about your health, as you will be able to give them solid proof of what you’re experiencing.

“In some situations, patients feel doctors don’t adequately take into account their opinions and what they think is going on,” Ms Burns told the ABC.

“Traditionally medicine was ‘the doctor knew everything and the patient just listened to them and said yes to everything’. And I think that dynamic is really changing”.


Tell us, have you ever taken a selfie or video of a health problem you have and shown it to your doctor? Would you? Do you like the medical changes that are happening?