Chatbots are defined as artificial intelligence systems that interact with users via messaging, text, or speech. Chatbots can work in segments such as marketing, payments and processing, and various services, including healthcare.
Chatbot applications for patients and clinicians are gradually being adopted into the healthcare industry, although they are still in the early phases of implementation.
According to a 2017 report by Grand View Research, the global chatbot market is expected to reach $1.23 billion by 2025, a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.3%.
The majority of current healthcare chatbots appear to focus on checking patient symptoms or helping patients track their health data.
There are also chatbot apps that connect the patients and clinicians, for diagnosis, treatment, etc.
Here on SteadyHealth, we already reviewed one excellent app called Your.MD which is the first chatbot symptom checker and virtual health assistant that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide health and wellbeing guidance, as well as diagnosis advice whenever the real doctor isn't around.
The app we review today is very similar in features, design, and of course its purpose. Ada - Your Health Guide app is a symptom checker powered by a sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) engine combined with an extensive medical knowledge base covering thousands of conditions, symptoms, and findings.
The app's interactive and easy-to-use interface is designed to help users check on their health symptoms and provide them with an information on what might be the cause.
The Ada app also allows patients to monitor different conditions at once, create a digital health record and figure out what next steps they should take for care.
According to the app's creators, the Ada Health Guide was developed by a team of 100 doctors, scientists, and engineers, with a goal to empower patients to take an active role in their health and to augment doctors by providing earlier health information and decision support.
The app is available on iOS and Android for free and has been one of the fastest growing medical apps in 2017.
Upon the first launch, the app would ask users to log in with their existing account or create one if they don't have it.
During the next steps, the app requires users to answer a few questions that would help the app's engine "get smarter," i.e. provide better guidance.
These include name, gender, DoB, as well as health background questions about user's smoking habits, history of high blood pressure, or if they have diabetes.
After completing this step, the users can proceed to the symptom assessment for themselves or someone else (a family member, for example).
The app feature a search field that patients can use to enter the symptom that troubles them the most. The list of symptoms populates as you type, thanks to the auto-complete feature.
For the purpose of this review, I've looked up the 'abdominal pain' and then answered all the questions the app's AI asked afterward regarding the symptom.
These included the duration of the pain, location of the pain (I've chosen the upper left side on the interactive map provided), the pain intensity, other related symptoms, and more.
Most of the questions are accompanied with the explanation that users can reach by tapping on the 'What does this mean?' question.
These explanations are provided in a form of text, photos (for example for skin rash or redness), or illustrations to help users better understand what certain questions mean. For example, what having a fever means, where to look up for the flank pain, etc.
After a user answered all relevant questions, the app would put together a report outlining possible causes for user's symptoms with a disclaimer that the app doesn't provide a medical diagnosis and that users should seek advice from a medical professional.
The report includes the list of possible medical conditions that may be associated with the symptoms. The app also recommends next steps in care, i.e. whether users should seek emergency care, seek medical advice, or manage condition at home.
In my case, I've got 5 possible causes for the symptoms I've provided answers for, including acute pancreatitis, splenic infarct, diverticulitis, kidney infection, and acute gastritis.
Four of these conditions required medical attention, with splenic infarct being the emergency, while the app suggested that gastritis could be managed at home.
Users can open each condition to learn more about them. The information is provided as a text in a concise format often grouped in several expandable sections, including Overview, Risks, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, and Prognosis, depending on the condition.
The report also provides likelihood stats of people having a particular condition with indicated symptoms. This part features a nicely designed graph showing the stats visually.
The assessment report can be shared as PDF via email, SMS, chat, etc.
The Ada app also enables patients to monitor their health symptoms over time by selecting the number on a slider from 'Not severe' to 'Very severe.'
Patients can also create a digital record of important health information and history such as medications they use, allergies, and other health information which can be added to the report and shared with their doctors or other healthcare professionals.
This part is, however, underdeveloped, because it offers the ability to add medications without the option to add dosage, the frequency of use, reminders, etc.
There is a Condition Library listing all health conditions that can be easily searched through thanks to the Search feature with auto-complete. Information about most of the conditions is provided in the same format with a link to NHS website for more info that opens in the app.
The Ada Health Guide is a multilingual app meaning that it is available in German, Portuguese, Spanish and French languages besides English (both UK and US). The language can be set in the Settings menu.
Here in Settings, users can also switch between metric and imperial units (metric units are set by default).
As a conclusion, Ada Health Guide is a wonderful health app that uses artificial intelligence engine to ask patients simple personalized questions trying to find out what is wrong with them.
Using this intuitive approach, the app then provides possible diagnoses, just like any doctor would do. However, the most important thing is that Ada app isn't claiming to replace your doctor anytime soon.
I would recommend this app as a great way to help self-diagnose minor ailments. For anything more serious, call your doctor.
Benefit: The app is intended for patients to help them check their symptoms and view possible conditions associated with those symptoms