Human doctors have been more accurate than digital symptom checkers. Until now…


We continue sharing thoughts on my new venture, WellAI, and how it will bring revolutionary changes to healthcare.

  • Did you know that despite the proliferation of artificial intelligence in healthcare, human doctors are still more accurate than digital symptom checkers on average?  An August 2019 independent study in the British Medical Journal found that when the same 43 vignettes were given to 23 most widely used symptom checkers, as well as human doctors, human accuracy vs the digital symptom checker accuracy for the top three diagnoses was 84% vs 51%, respectively (resulting in p-value < 0.001).

What is a problem with this finding?  In my opinion, the problem is the sample size.  These 43 vignettes were the most common medical disorders. As the complexity and the number of medical disorders increases, both human and digital accuracies decrease.  In fact, according to a study in the May 2020 AMIA Joint Summits on Translational Science proceedings, an increase in 10 diseases considered can cause an approximately 1% drop in top-3 accuracy.

What if you wanted to test the accuracy of thousands of diseases?  Do digital symptom checkers have a chance vs a human doctor?  Preliminary results from backtests by the WellAI data scientists have shown that for significant cross-section of diseases, not only the accuracy of the WellAI’s digital health assistant is higher than that for the most widely used commercial symptom checkers, it is likely higher than that for humans, in a fair comparison – i.e. when testing for thousands of diseases, not just dozens most common ones.

What if the WellAI’s digital health assistant provides more accurate diagnoses than human doctors, on average?  Does that mean we would not need (as many) doctors?  This is an absolutely false statement, in my opinion.  The use of the WellAI’s digital health assistant is supposed to be complementary to a doctor’s knowledge.  There is a famous joke among statisticians.  A statistician who put his head in an oven and his feet in a freezer, noticed: “On average, I feel fine.”  There will always be situations, at least in the near future, where the human knowledge and the human experience in medicine would be hard to replicate by the machines.  We believe in collective knowledge: Human doctors and digital health assistants are working side by side helping patients.


We are weeks away from launching our one-of-a-kind WellAI health and wellness platform and are excited to announce that we are offering the WellAI Founding Member discount to our first 100 paid customers.  To get on the Waiting List, please sign up at

In other WellAI news,

  • Online event “Reading 25 Million Studies in Seconds” will be presented by Sergei and Daniel on August 25, 2020.  This webinar is jointly organized with the Society of Quantitative Analysts (SQA).  Press release is available here.
  • An educational show Advancements with Ted Danson to air on CNBC in September 2020.  This episode of the show will discuss how WellAI is changing healthcare through innovations in machine learning.  Press release is available here.


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Stay healthy!  Be knowledgeable about your health!

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