© Ada Health GmbH

25 March 2019

How an app could change healthcare.

Ada is an AI-based health platform designed to help people better understand their health and determine the most appropriate next steps toward the right treatment. Ada must be a pretty smart app, right? It’s time for two self-experiments.

I must have made a wrong move. At a recent press conference in – of all places – Berlin’s Senate Department for Health, I suddenly felt a massive pain traveling from my neck down to my back. It was getting worse by the minute, until the point where I could no longer turn my head. It’ll get better, I say to myself. But it didn’t get better. Was it time to go to the doctor? For the first time ever, I turn to Ada.

On the app’s homepage, it says that a symptom analyses is carried out using Ada every three seconds. Ada was founded in 2011 by doctors, scientists and software developers and launched worldwide in 2016. “Ada already speaks English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese and is learning more languages to reach even more people,” the developers write. According to them, Ada draws on a knowledge base that comprises billions of symptom combinations and thousands of diseases. After determining my symptoms, Ada offers me five possible causes (in the following order): 1) musculoskeletal neck pain, 2) degenerative disease of the cervical vertebrae, 3) acute cervical radicular pain, 4) craniomandibular dysfunction and 5) neck muscle tension. Wow, maybe I really should go to the doctor? A craniomandibular dysfunction is not something to be trifled with – I think.

Ada certainly doesn’t do away with a trip to the doctor. Indeed, that’s not her goal: “Ada helps people recognize the next steps to take in a safe and secure way, that is, to find the appropriate treatment and to manage their health. Ada is a personalized, AI-supported health helper – with a human touch.” No doubt also with a hypochondriac touch …

Last weekend, I tested Ada again. After a recent visit to a personal trainer, I woke up with unbelievably sore muscles. This time, Ada was sure: The pain in my thighs could only come from a “serious stiffness in the lower extremities.” Or from a “pulled muscle or a torn muscle fiber of the quadriceps.” If the trainer asks how I’m doing, I’ll say it was a torn muscle fiber …