Here's why medical chatbots could help doctors but won't replace them

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Chatbots that analyze users’ symptoms and offer advice are all the rage in Silicon Valley.

But I had never actually used one — until Northern California-based hospital chain Sutter Health gave me early access to a new service they’ve developed with Ada Health, a European tech company that is bringing its symptom-checking software to the United States.

About four million people have downloaded and used Ada’s app, according to its website. But in a few weeks, a version of its symptom-checking software will also be available for folks to use for free via Sutter Health’s website, without needing to sign up via the app.

As luck would have it — or rather, bad luck — I recently had a bout of what seemed like food poisoning to put it to the test.

Here’s how it went:

I signed up with my first name, date of birth and some basic


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