Ada, a London and Berlin-based health tech startup, sees its official U.K. push this week, and in doing so joins a number of other European startups attempting to market something similar to an AI-powered ‘doctor’. This app has been six years in the making, and originally started out start off as a tool to help doctors avoid misdiagnosis, but now it is a “personal health companion and telemedicine app”. Via a conversational interface, Ada is designed to help you work out what symptoms you have and offer you information on what might be the cause. If needed, it then offers you a follow up remote consultation with a real doctor over text.
The app works by plugging in the symptoms of something, going through quite an extensive set of questions, many of which relate to the answers you have previously given. The Ada app provides various possible conditions, and advises on next steps (treat at home vs. seek further guidance from a professional).
The app aims to empower patients to make more informed decisions about their health. Or, to out it more bluntly, to ensure we only visit a doctor when we need to and, more generally, can be proactive in our healthcare without adding the need for greater human doctor resources.
“Ada has been trained over several years using real world cases, and the platform is powered by a sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) engine combined with an extensive medical knowledge base covering many thousands of conditions, symptoms and findings,” explains the company. “In every assessment, Ada takes all of a patient’s information into consideration, including past medical history, symptoms, risk factors and more. Through machine learning and multiple closed feedback loops, Ada continues to grow more intelligent, putting Ada ahead of anyone else in the market”.
Ada isn’t claiming to replace your doctor anytime soon. Like a lot of AI being applied to various verticals, not just healthcare, the app is designed to augment the role of humans, not replace it altogether. This can happen in two ways:
- Helping to act as a prescreen consultation before, if needed, being handed off to a real doctor for further advice, or simply helping to create a digital paper trail before a consultation takes place.
- By getting some of the most obvious symptom-related questions out of the way and captured and analysed by the app, it saves significant time during any follow up consultation.
App feedback has already shown it to successfully diagnose both common and quite rare conditions. Ada’s AI, since it has and continues to be trained by real doctors, pools a lot of shared expertise.
Video on how it works
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Ada is another example of how AI is continually evolving, especially in the healthcare landscape. It’s certainly a good thing that this app in particular is not promising to replace doctors, but crowdsource information to make doctor’s appointments more efficient.
On the other side of this, I am sure doctors are not thrilled about patients coming in with a self-diagnosis – which can undermine the doctor’s job and derail and appointment all together.