Yes, I suppose if you put your mind and wallet to it, you could access all the paywalled medical journals and learn navigate the system of publications to find what's relevant to your particular medical need. If you took that a step further and gave yourself a "full workup" examination, you, too, would have found your hernia - that's standard practice dating back 50 years or more.
The point is, doctors do this daily, they're practiced, and they have a fair idea about common problems and how to spot them - you should go through the "front line" of diagnosis of common problems, like hernia, before digging deeper into the latest research. But, when you fall into the group of people with medical needs that aren't adequately addressed with common, front line diagnosis and treatments, that's where the new stuff becomes valuable. Things that would have gotten a shrug of the shoulders and Rx for some pain killers last year might actually be treatable today. I remember in 1991, a colleague had ulcers, and his doctor was stuck firmly in 1989, telling him to avoid food and drink that irritate the ulcers and basically hope they'll go away on their own - thing was, in 1990 they published the causal connection between H.pylori and common ulcers, making them curable with a short course of antibiotics, which is common practice today, but his doctor wasn't "up on these things" so he was left to suffer.