If you've ever traversed the morasses of WebMD to try and figure out if that pain in your arm might signify a more serious medical condition, then you know just how hard it can be to pinpoint the most likely diagnosis (and its level of urgency) amid a sea of information.
Digital health firm HealthTap wants to overcome that dilemma with its newest mobile app, Dr. A.I., which launched on Tuesday. The platform digitizes health care triage, HealthTap founder and CEO Ron Gutman tells Fortune, which is the process of assessing the level of medical risk facing a patient and the first step in the treatment pathway.
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Gutman says that the problem with using conventional search engines to look up medical symptoms is that it's ineffective since they produce purely semantic results. Google can't incorporate information about you like your age, weight, and medical history and then tailor its results based on those parameters; it also can't ask follow-up questions to narrow the field of possible ailments.
That's where Dr. A.I. comes in. The software relies on individual patients' medical profiles and knowledge gleaned from 105,000 physicians who are triage experts over more than half a decade.
"Over the past six years, we’ve collected data from tens of thousands of the leading U.S. doctors who’ve collectively triaged millions of patients throughout their careers," said Dr. Geoff Rutledge, HealthTap’s Chief Medical Officer, in a statement. “We’ve used this data as a training set to prepare Dr. A.I. for helping triage patients at scale."
Gutman gave me a live demonstration of how the system works at Fortune's offices, emulating a number of different hypothetical patients (an older woman, a younger male, etc.) with different health histories. Dr. A.I. asks you to specify various symptoms throughout the body (light-headedness, pains, fatigue, and so on) and asks the kinds of followup questions that a physician would normally ask based on the replies.
Finally, it compiles a list of the most and least likely causes for the symptoms and ranks them by order of seriousness. If a potential diagnosis only requires a quick doctor consult, Dr. A.I. lets you know; if you should be headed to an emergency room ASAP, it lets you know that, too.
And the system also integrates HealthTap's broader cloud-based mobile digital health platform, which connects patients to doctors and specialists via video chat, phone, and text. The Dr. A.I. app is now available to all consumers on both Android and iOS.