Raise your hand if you’re a hypochondriac. (Hey, there’s nothing shameful about a 3 a.m. Google search to try to self-diagnose a questionable rash.) But there is a downside—mainly, the fact that the Internet is a black hole of medical misinformation that can send you into full-fledged dial-the-on-call-doctor panic mode. (Never good.)
That’s why we love Buoy, a new health app developed by Harvard Medical School doctors. Using artificial intelligence, it asks 20(ish) questions to help you accurately self-diagnose your illness in a few minutes or less.
Here’s how it works: Download the free app and set up an account using your email address. From there, you’ll immediately start what looks like a text message exchange about your symptoms. For example, the AI—aka medical robot—will ask: “What symptom is bothering you the most?” We answered cough and got a follow-up: “Do you feel mucus dripping down your throat?” (FYI, the questions get more and more specific as you detail your symptoms through Q&A.)
At the end, the app—which uses data pulled from medical literature that actual doctors rely on—spits out a diagnosis. (It’s worth noting that it’s the same one given by real MDs over 90 percent of the time.)
Sure, it’s not a replacement for an actual doctor, but it definitely beats a late-night (and panic-inducing) Google search.