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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Patients click for cough clinic
Woman coughing
Patients answer a questionnaire and are sent a diagnosis
An online "cough clinic" is being pioneered by scientists at the University of Hull.

Experts at the university claim the clinic, which aims to cut down GP waiting times, is the world's first interactive self-diagnosis website.

Patients using the service go online, answer a questionnaire and are then sent a suggested diagnosis and information about treatments.

The university said more than 10,000 people had signed up to the website.

'Credible approach'

Professor Alyn Morice, who created the cough clinic, said: "In a digital era when medical information is at our fingertips, there is a growing trend for people to conduct research via the internet and try and diagnose themselves before seeing the doctor.

"This process is not always sound, but since this project has been devised by medical experts, it provides a credible approach to online diagnosis."

Professor Morice said once the clinic gained momentum it would start to have a "real impact" on GP waiting times.

He said: "Those with chronic coughs visit the doctor on average between six to eight times; this amounts to a lot of time and often with little success.

"Not only is the online clinic a convenient alternative to patients, providing expert advice and immediate results, it also helps to alleviate time pressures for GPs."

The team is now working on other websites to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome and heartburn.

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