Dr. Google, You’re Fired

September 4, 2018

Froedtert Health Implements Buoy, an AI Tool That Provides Patients Possible Diagnoses and Recommends Treatment Options

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

Andrew Le, MD, CEO and co-founder of Buoy

Andrew Le, MD, CEO and co-founder of Buoy

A Google search is often the starting point when someone has a health concern. But many consumers have been scared out of their wits by the results they find. “The joke you hear all the time is ‘I put in cough and I got lung cancer’ or ‘I put in headache and I got brain tumor,’” says Andrew Le, MD, CEO, and co-founder of Buoy. Overstating the issue is one problem, but search results could also lead a consumer to underestimate the seriousness of his or her symptoms, delaying needed care.

Buoy is a digital tool that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to replicate the way a physician would interact with a patient and then deliver three possible diagnoses with recommendations as to the appropriate treatment and care setting. Vetted by the Harvard Innovation Lab, Buoy attracted 3 million unique visitors in 2017, its first year of operations, and is on pace to attract between 40 million and 50 million this year.

Froedtert Health in Wisconsin implemented Buoy in February. Froedtert’s innovation and digital health arm Inception Health seeks to enhance consumer interaction by finding frictionless ways to bring new digital health solutions into Froedtert, says Kelly Stevenson, implementation manager.

Kelly Stevenson, implementation manager at Inception Health

Kelly Stevenson, implementation manager at Inception Health

“We know consumers increasingly go to the internet to find care, but they often get overwhelmed and challenged to find the right information or even the right venue of care,” she says. “So Buoy helps to give people a faster, smarter way to get information about their health concerns without the hassle of endless, sometimes scary, and even inaccurate online searching.”

We tried Buoy, posing as a female triathlete with an injury. Here, we’ll see how Buoy handles her complaint, analyzes her answers, and makes recommendations.

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