Ada Health chatbot: Food poisoning test

Chan believes there’s a gap in the market for technologies that can help patients figure out what to do when they get sick, which led him to reach out to Ada Health about a partnership. As Chan points out, it’s not always obvious for most people whether to stay home to rest and recover, see a primary care doctor or go straight to the emergency room.

“We want them to get the appropriate level of care,” said Chan.

Chan is also a doctor, so I briefly ran him through my symptoms and he felt that the AI had advised me well. I noted that three of the five potential diagnoses indicated that I should seek medical care, while the most likely (viral gastroenteritis) suggested that I could stay home.

Chan said these tools are meant to be “advisory,” rather than a replacement for a doctor or a formal diagnosis. If I got any worse, he said, I should consider seeing a doctor.

I called up Ada Health’s chief commercial officer Jeff Cutler, who noted that the tool is designed to learn about its users over time.

“It really depends on the person, as some might take action based on the most severe decision while others are reassured by the most likely one,” he said. That’s why Ada lists a range of possible explanations to help patients make their choice.

Cutler said that if I were using the Ada app, these recommendations would get more accurate as Ada learned more about me. (The Sutter Health version on the website is anonymous, but I can save the assessment and download the app from there.)

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