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AI-powered symptom checkers can help healthcare systems deal with the COVID-19 burden

AI-powered symptom checkers can potentially reduce the number of people going to in-person clinics during the pandemic, but first, researchers say, people need to know they exist.

COVID symptom checkers are digital self-assessment tools that use AI to help users identify their level of COVID-19 risk and assess whether they need to seek urgent care based on their reported symptoms. These tools also aim to provide reassurance to people who are experiencing symptoms that are not COVID-19 related.

Most platforms, like Babylon and Isabel, are public-facing tools, but the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has one of the first COVID-19 symptom checkers that is fully integrated with the users’ medical records, allowing for immediate appointment scheduling.

A mixed-methods study at the University of Waterloo found that 18- to 34-year-old young adults, typically the first age group to adopt new technologies, were unaware of the existence of these platforms.

“Young adults are usually eager adopters of technology, so we were a little surprised by this finding,” said lead researcher Stephanie Aboueid, a PhD candidate in the School of Public Health and Health Systems. “Symptom checkers have the potential to reduce the burden on health-care systems and the risk of person-to-person infection, so we […]

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