Are you considering which CBD brand on which to bet your health? With so many new startups, it’s hard to pick the real experts.
We’ve selected 5 brands marketing CBD, highlighting the strengths of each.
One is backed by years of medical research and clinical trials.
Some have hands-on experience treating patients with thousands of testimonies.
Others have done the due diligence of obtaining organic certification, ensuring at the very least, their products aren’t adding to your health problems.
Also, we’ll explain the difference between medical cannabis brands selling CBD and those marketing their products as hemp extracts.
If you’re new to CBD and want to know more, check out Explaining CBD. The article details how CBD helps common medical conditions and covers CBD legality and the different forms available.
Over the last few years, many different CBD brands have appeared online, and it’s challenging to know which to choose.
The legal loophole of marketing CBD as a hemp product without THC that’s found incannabis, has attracted many startups.
And why not? If the product is legitimate and better than the opioids pushed by big pharma, CBD medication should be encouraged.
Moreover, the regular use of hemp compounds as a solution to the opioid epidemic is slow to emerge.
Pharmaceutical companies are the biggest corporate stakeholders in mainstream medicine, with large research grants and investments.
So much so, big-pharma doesn’t want to replace their money-makers with a product with intense competition and easy entrants to the industry.
How CBD startups market their products
CBD brands market their products as supplements made from hemp extracts and are reticent about claiming they’re product treat health conditions.
Accordingly, product descriptions are cautious to an extreme in explaining their health benefits, relying heavily on customer user ratings and testimony.
That’s why, to garner legitimacy, CBD brands are transparent about their production processes, aiming for organic status instead. An effort to at least show their products don’t cause damage with contaminants and dangerous fertilizers.
By comparison, medical cannabis brands offering CBD are vying for FDA certification and medical approval.
As such, they detail the exact content, including terpene profiles and the medical conditions they treat. What’s more, their products are backed by years of medical research and clinical trials.
Furthermore, cannabis medication is only available in states that have legalized medical cannabis, contradicting federal law.
So far, the only medical cannabis company to gain FDA approval is GW Pharmaceuticals ( a UK company), producing Epidiolex for treating seizure disorders.
However, the lines blur as more medical cannabis brands cross over to provide CBD products with low THC levels similar to brands marketing their products as hemp extracts.
The problem is you can’t dance at two weddings. Either you’re going to market CBD as a hemp product or bet the full gambit with massive investment to achieve medical licensing with FDA certification.
Unless the rules change, by the time medical cannabis brands achieve drug licensing, CBD brands will be well entrenched with market share and the battle is lost.
The real question is, which type of company would you bet your health on? One that’s done the medical research and clinical trials, or a hemp company with organic certification and customer testimony?
The legal status of hemp products
If you live in the US, CBD from Hemp with a THC content of 0.3% or below is federally legal but restricted in some states. CBD derived from cannabis plants with a THC content of 0.4%, or more is federally illegal but legal in some states.
But there should be no misunderstanding. Hemp and cannabis plants are the same species, legally differentiated by their THC content.
As CBD from hemp is legal, the FDA does not regulate its consumption or commercial use.
As with many supplements, it’s crucial to purchase CBD from a reputable brand, and not one that is vague about the contents of ingredients.
The truth about CBD contamination and organic production
Modern farm production often uses pesticides to ward off parasites and disease. What’s more, they add hormones and make genetic modifications to their seeds giving higher production yields. Furthermore, their production techniques alter the size and taste of the produce.
In comparison, cannabis and hemp production is no exception. That’s why there is an outcry for organic produce not only in supermarkets but now taking hold in the CBD industry.
Looking deeper, actual organic status without genetic manipulation is rare, and any brand claiming to be organic should be regarded with questionable skepticism unless officially certified.
However, most essential is making sure that the hemp CBD brand you choose has products that are free of pesticides, hormone growth additives, and are cultivated with natural organic fertilizers.
But most hemp cultivators for CBD brands understand the need for transparency and natural ingredients and comply with public demand for organic farming methods.
Realistically, genetic manipulation is here to stay, and the genie will not go back in the bottle.
Finally, it wouldn’t be out of order to state that mosthemp and cannabis strains are genetically modified.
Hybrid strains are created with preferred phytocannabinoid elements and terpenes.
The reason being, genetic profiles of strains are manipulated for specific recreational preferences for taste and experience.
Also, medical cannabis producers do the same for targeting the treatment of specific medical conditions.
CBD brands with professional medical research
Since 2018 CBD has become a commodity, with expert marketing, brand, and price strategies to achieve market share. Also, the vast majority of CBD brands promise organically grown products and independent lab tests.
That’s why outstanding CBD brands go beyond transparency offering hemp extracts targeting specific medical conditions. They rely heavily on the volume of customer testimony and market share.
Few, however, are backed with medical research, and even less legitimately claim any medical benefits, which are vague in their product descriptions, making them subject to FDA scrutiny.
That’s why you find many of the CBD brands with disclaimers stating their products do not solve medical conditions.
By contrast, medical cannabis brands are transparent about their cannabinoid content and state the exact terpene profile.
Further still, they list the medical conditions they treat on their websites. They’re able to do this as they are consistent in using the same hybrid strains to produce each harvest. Also, they have medical research to back up their claims.
CBD brands without terpene breakdowns in product descriptions are more likely to use different hybrids for each extraction batch. The terpene profile may well be different with each production cycle.
That’s why there is a significant difference between medical cannabis brands and startup CBD brands, the latter taking advantage of loopholes in the laws surrounding the sale of CBD as a supplement.
How to choose the right CBD brand?
The best way to verify the quality and claims of CBD products is to check the full transparency of ingredients, including a detailed terpene profile.
Many brands offer a certificate of analysis (COA) that examines contaminant content, purity, and element potency. Additionally, labs provide peace of mind exposing pesticides, heavy metals, and fungi.
However, COA labs will not state or verify the health benefitsof CBD. Only specialist doctors in CBD treatment or a medical cannabis brand backed with medical research and clinical trials can advise CBD products for specific medical conditions.
Relying solely on a few social media and customer ratings touting efficacy is not wise. Such reviews aren’t always legitimate and may not be trustworthy unless verified or in overwhelming numbers.
For complete peace of mind, always seek advice from a qualified medical professional that is an expert with medical cannabis therapy and CBD products. That’s why you should go to a qualified doctor to prescribe the right brand, form, and dosage suited to your individual needs.
5 brand selling CBD you can trust
As pioneers in medical cannabis research, Tikun has blazed the trail in developing CBD products to relieve anxiety and pain.
What’s more, the brand belongs to an elite group of medical cannabis producers who have undergone 15 plus years of study in developing cannabis products to treat numerous medical conditions.
Furthermore, Tikun’s research was carried out in cooperation with the forefather of medical cannabis research Professor Raphael Mechoulam.
The company produces a range of CBD products under the brand Avidekel, a full-spectrum cannabis strain. This renowned medical cannabis brand is exceptionally effective in relieving stress, anxiety, pain, and many other ailments. What’s more, it’s available in tinctures, vape oil, and a topical cream.
A higher concentration of CBD increases serotonin levels that help alleviate stress throughout the body. The THC content is Avidekel is less than 1% and unlikely to get you high, other than calming your mood.
Tikun provides a complete breakdown of compounds and terpene profile in Avidekel, explaining each terpene’s aroma. The product descriptions also state exactly for which medical conditions it is suited. That’s in stark contrast to other CBD brands as it’s grounded in extensive medical knowledge and experience.
Due to Tikun’s library of published medical research and clinical trials, Avidikel’s health benefits are documented as follows:
Elevates energy levels
Reduces stress, agitation, and anxiety
Improves symptoms of depression
Reduces rage attacks
Acts as a sleep aid
Helps digestive problems
Improve airflow to the lungs
Prevents memory loss
Slows the spread of infection and cancer cells
Relief of Autism symptoms
Relief in pain related to MS
Type: An Indica-dominant hybrid strain. CBD: 16-19% – (600Mg) / 30Ml bottle THC: <1% Available as a Tincture, Vape, Topicals, and more.
Terpene content in Avidekel CBD products
Avidekel is sold worldwide, available online, in Europe, Israel, Canada, and throughout California, with distribution soon throughout the US, in states where cannabis is legal.
The Stanley brothers developed the CBD brand Charlotte’s Web to treat seizures related to Dravet syndrome.
Notorious for their efforts, originally their CBD was named Hippie’s Disappointment and later rebranded as Charlotte’s Web.
The reason being, the CBD was used to treat Charlotte Figi, from Colorado, who suffered throughout her life with extreme epileptic seizures.
Charlotte sustained in the region 300 attacks per week at the peak of her condition, eventually reduced to two or three per month. Sadly, Charlotte passed on April 7, 2020, after being hospitalized with pneumonia and resulting complications.
However, Charlotte’s Web has helped thousands of families, many of whom moved to Colorado to gain access to CBD treatment.
What’s more, the brand has well-earned a reputation in its ability to help sufferers of seizures, stress, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and other autoimmune conditions.
However, due to the laws governing CBD products in the US, the Charlotte’s Web brand relies on solid customer testimony regarding its medicinal benefits.
As a full-spectrum hemp extract, Charlotte’s Web includes CBD (Cannabidiol), CBC, CBG, and other beneficial phytocannabinoids. What’s more, it is available in a variety of strengths from 500-1800Mg and container sizes.
What’s also cool is their Flavors including Lemon Twist, Orange Blossom, and Mint-Chocolate, for instance. Also, the products come in an array of forms such as oil, gummies, and capsules, infused with additional ingredients such as Ginger Turmeric and Melatonin, to aid sleep.
Charlotte’s Web is available online and throughout the US.
One of the earlier pioneers in hemp extract products, NuLeaf has been producing full-spectrum organic extracts since 2014.
Unlike other CBD brands, NuLeaf does not rely on additives and only uses natural compounds and terpenes derived from organically grown hemp plants.
Furthermore, the company has a colossal amount of positive user reviews with over 20,000 testimonies with 5-star ratings regarding the medicinal benefits of their extracts, a number with which is hard to argue.
Further still, their full spectrum range includes cannabinoids, CBD, CBC, Delta 8 THC (a less potent form of THC), CBG, CBN, and various beneficial terpenes.
What’s more, their products are certified independently as being free from pesticides and other contaminants such as herbicides, fungi, mold, mycotoxins, and heavy metals.
Among a small class of quality hemp farmers, NuLeaf cultivates their hemp plants organically in Colorado, controlling the ecosystem with consistent strains farming and production techniques.
Also, all their products are ISO certified in strict regulatory conditions.
NuLeaf CBD products are available as full-spectrum oil, softgel capsules, and balms. Most notable is NuLeaf focused extraction techniques that separate each product to separate phytocannabinoid compounds.
That’s why their products address specific health conditions, such as relieving stress, treating anxiety, as a sleep aid, and helping with pain relief.
Besides being medically directed and suitable for relieving an array of symptoms, the extracts are available in different potencies ranging from 300mg, 900mg, 1800mg, 3000mg, and 6000mg.
Lazarus is a CBD brand with complete transparency and control of its operations, critical when selecting a reputable CBD supplier. Farmed in Central Oregon, they supply organic non-GMO hemp with USDA Organic certification, a rare accreditation among CBD brands.
Lazarus control cultivation on their three farms, from seed to harvesting, managing extraction, packaging, and delivery. The only process falling outside the purview of their control is Third-Party testing, which is as it should be.
Founded in 2014 before the onslaught of wannabe CBD entrepreneurs flooding the US market, like its products, the company has grown naturally from a fledgling operation to today’s stellar organization.
Most notable is the Lazarus Assistance Program, whose aim is to lower the price of CBD, making it more accessible to the masses.
What’s more, Lazarus has an upfront approach to recommending its products for specific health conditions. If you visit their website, an AI questionnaire will walk you through a series of questions intended to find CBD product solutions for specific health issues.
The result being, the company’s products relieve stress & anxiety, help with sleep, reduces aches in muscles and joints, helps with general wellness, focus & energy, aid skin conditions and problems related to digestion.
Among the more creative producers, Lazarus CBD products are available as tinctures, softgels, balms, skin lotions, and edibles such as flavored tarts.
Lazarus is available online and throughout the US.
For the last review of select CBD brands, Joy organics is remarkable, considering it’s only been around since 2018. A relatively new brand, Joy achieved USDA Certified Organic Full & Broad Spectrum CBD Tinctures. Quite an achievement and hurdle many CBD brands do not claim.
Organic certification means their seeds are natural and not genetically modified, and their farming processes and extraction techniques are devoid of chemical fertilizers and additives.
Joy Smith, the co-founder, started as a CBD user with a first-hand experience of the tribulations in finding quality CBD. For instance, many products she tried didn’t work and she wanted something effective in treating her medical condition.
That’s why, after due diligence surrounding the complexity of producing organic CBD, Joy founded a company with the goal of setting a benchmark for transparency.
To this end, the business sets the highest standard in manufacturing, quality, and testing, with a prime directive to ensure all processes meet USDA organic status.
A family business, Joy Organics, is located in Fort Collins, Colorado, with a second operational center in Austin Tx, run by her daughter Danielle.
Finally, Joy Organic products include Full and Broad-Spectrum tinctures, salves, gummies, softgels, energy drinks, bath bombs, creams, and even supplements for pets.
The CBD industry has become a highly competitive arena, with many new brands springing up in the last three years.
Many companies are refining the extract under the umbrella of a legal non-psychoactive hemp supplement.
As a hemp compound, CBD helps several medical conditions and is far healthier than opioids prescribed by doctors and promoted by big pharma.
What is CBD, and how does it help medical conditions?
Of the many compounds discovered in the cannabis species, the most often discussed are THC (Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol).
THC is responsible for the potent psychoactive effect on the brain, creating a high or stoned mental state. Alternative medicine practitioners also use it for its therapeutic quality in treating severe medical conditions.
On the other hand, CBD has a minimal psychoactive effect but can alter mood and is renowned for stress relief, anxiety reduction, and several other therapeutic effects.
CBD is unlikely to get you high in small doses. Still, it can create euphoria in large quantities, perhaps due to any trace amounts of THC present left from extraction.
The technology to extract and separate these elements has given birth to an entirely new industry dedicated to producing CBD in different forms.
As an alternative medication, CBD helps manage several health disorders and is legal in most countries for distribution as a non-psychoactive supplement.
Many entrepreneurial brands tout CBD as the new wonder drug to solve the opioid epidemic, destroying the lives of thousands each year.
Perhaps rightly so, as serious research is studying the benefits of CBD in aiding severe disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.
If you live in the US, CBD from Hemp with a THC content of 0.3% or below is federally legal but restricted in some states. CBD derived from cannabis plants with a THC content of 0.4%, or more are federally illegal but legal in some states.
But there should be no misunderstanding. Hemp and cannabis plants are the same species, legally differentiated by their THC content.
As CBD from hemp is legal, the FDA does not regulate its consumption or commercial use.
As with many supplements, it’s crucial to purchase CBD from a reputable brand. Many entrepreneurs are popping up on the market, vague about their cannabinoid content and ingredients.
In which form is CBD available?
The cannabis and hemp industry has developed a plethora of CBD treatments.
Oral intake CBD is available as oils, tinctures (alcohol-based), oil capsules, pills, gummies, CBD-infused soft drinks, tea, and even beer. Other treatments for external use include skin lotions, creams, massage oils, and bath products.
It’s important to note that products with the general label CBD can have various cannabinoid elements extracted from hemp plants with different effects.
Full-spectrum CBD and the importance of terpenes
Most notable is the entourage effect of several elements in hemp and cannabis plants that have the significant therapeutic ability in treating anxiety, pain, and inflammation.
Extracts that contain the cannabinoid CBD, terpenes, flavonoids, and low levels of THC (below 0.03% in cannabis dry weight), are considered Full-spectrum CBD.
Terpenes are plant compounds that give off an aroma, appearing in high concentration in cannabis and hemp and affect human physiology.
For example, Myrcene, a terpene common to cannabis, is renowned for being relaxant and sedative. Pinene with a pine scent has anti-inflammatory properties, and Limonene can aid anxiety and depression.
That’s why the inclusion of terpenes in full-spectrum CBD products is highly beneficial in reducing stress, anxiety, pain and can act as a muscle relaxant.
In contrast to full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD has several cannabinoid elements, including CBD, CBN (cannabinol), CBC (cannabichrome) and terpenes.
Each cannabinoid compound has a different physiological effect. For example, CBD can reduce appetite, whereas CBN stimulates appetite, both relieving pain and inflammation.
Using advanced distillation techniques, CBD Isolate is a distillate created with the isolated element of CBD that is 99% pure. The distilled extract can take the form of crystalline powder or solid.
By adding the isolate to hemp oil, the producers can dramatically increase potency without any other hemp compounds, terpenes, flavonoids, or THC.
Which type should I take?
When treating anxiety with CBD, it’s best to get advice from a medical professional that understands CBD and cannabis products. What’s more, each person’s needs and experience are different.
CBD for treating anxiety can come in oils, capsules, gummies, other edibles, and even soft drinks.
Each form comes in varying potencies and quantities and will have a different effect, some mild with short-term results, other forms stronger and longer-lasting.
What are the side effects?
As much as CBD is effective in a variety of medical conditions, it may cause side effects. Your experience will depend on the brand and type of CBD, the amount, frequency, and the individual concerned.
Side effects may include dry mouth, diarrhoea, drowsiness, and fatigue. CBD can also interact with other medications. That’s why it’s essential to know the quality of the brand being used and consult with a doctor.
How to start with CBD
Before using CBD, it is essential to be familiar with your state of health. Furthermore, it’s also important to consider the medication you are taking in conjunction.
Consideration also must be given to body weight and blood chemistry. Always start with a low dose and gradually increase the amount over a period, noting any side effects.
Besides the content and strength of CBD, the form you take can have a starkly different effect.
By comparison, CBD for oral intake can give a very different experience both in immediacy and length of impact, to a topical cream, for external use.
For older patients with difficulty with anxiety, CBD from a hemp variety that does not contain THC above 0.03% is more suited. That’s why it’s advisable to consult a doctor before prescribing CBD for treating anxiety in older patients.
If you want to try CBD and are looking for a trustworthy, reputable brand, check out the article Reputable CBD Brands You can Trust
Let’s have your thoughts and comments below. Have you tried CBD, and what experience did you have? Don’t forget to subscribe and check out more articles on medical cannabis and what it can do for you.
We looked at the 5 best symptom checker apps that scored highest among tests from a team of independent doctors and the features they offer. As a result, we found, all the apps use a Chatbot– AI technology that asks questions about your symptoms and spits out suggestions about possible conditions, treatment, and urgency.
Do you feel something’s not right and don’t have the time to make an appointment with a doctor? What’s more, you may even hesitant about visiting a clinic with the risk of catching something, even worried about COVID-19 symptoms.
Firstly, you’re not alone, and that’s why many in the same boat are turning to symptom checker apps for possible medical conditions, and demand has grown more than ever. As a result, with so many symptom checkers on the market, you may be wondering which apps are trustworthy?
Can you trust an algorithm to give you the correct answer about your health? Also, you may have privacy concerns about who has access to your data.
What To Expect From A Symptom Checker App For Patients
Not all symptom checkers are equal, and few, if any, are approved by the FDA or your local health authority. What’s more, many don’t know that in the US, a medical app for diagnosis or used in conjunction with a medical device must have FDA approval. That’s why symptom assessment apps state they do not provide a diagnosis and commit you to that understanding.
For this reason, an app that answers your symptoms is not a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified medical professional.
Essential Features To Look For In A Symptom Checker App
An independent team of doctors carried out a vignette study on symptom assessment apps and reported their research in the British Medical Journal. For this purpose, the study measured the apps against three criteria– Coverage, Accuracy, and Urgency. For which, we’ll get into each apps’ score later.
Coverage of Medical Conditions
The study tested doctors as a benchmark, accounting for all the possible medical conditions, for symptoms, with a score of 100%. Researchers also tested apps to see if they listed all the medical conditions the doctors diagnosed. The top app scored 99.0% for coverage. The app with the lowest range scored 51.5%.
Accuracy of Medical Conditions
Beyond listing all the possible medical conditions, researchers also tested doctors for accuracy, and they scored 82.1%. The highest accuracy score for apps was 70.5%. The lowest score was 23.5%, showing a vast difference among the apps. Furthermore, there’s no substitute for a doctor.
The urgency of Medical Conditions
The third criterion tested the urgency in seeking medical advice. Doctors scored 97.0%. In contrast, the top app scored the same, and the lowest app scored 80.0%, with one app that didn’t address urgency at all.
Additional Symptom Assessment App Services and Features
All of the symptom checker apps ask your age and gender. Some ask about your lifestyle and general health– whether you smoke, suffer from diabetes, or have high blood pressure.
Some apps only check symptoms, offer possible medical conditions and suggestions for treatment. By comparison, other apps focus heavily on providing medical information, news, tips, and even joining a community of patients with similar conditions. However, certain apps will offer to put you in contact with an online doctor for a fee or subscription.
For a free app with only a symptom checking service, you may want to consider how they make their money, as the app likely sells your data to third parties.
Apps that offer to put you in contact with a doctor are more transparent about their services and furthermore, stress that your information will not be sold to third parties, used only for improving the service.
The 5 Best Symptom Checker Apps For Patients
Below are the five best symptom checker apps sorted by rating for medical criteria using AI, not by available features. With this in mind, If you’re looking for an online doctor, note the apps that provide that service.
Symptom Checker Apps in order of AI Medical Rating
Let’s dive into each app and look at their test scores, how they work, and their pros and cons.
1. Ada – Symptom Cheker App
Firstly, Ada that’s taken the market by storm. Developed in Germany, the medical symptom assessment app has over 10 million subscribers and a 4.7 user rating. What’s more, the app is available in 7 languages running on iOS and Android.
Secondly, with the help of 50 in-house medical experts and AI software engineers, the symptom assessment app scores top marks for its medical coverage and accuracy among health professionals. Accordingly, Ada prides itself on an updated comprehensive medical library available on the app.
The app asks for a series of GDPR data consents. However, be in no doubt, Ada will use your data at their discretion.
The chatbot systematically asks questions about your symptoms, starting with the basics– age, gender, and birth date. It also asks underlying health-related questions– ‘Are you a smoker?’, ‘Have you been diagnosed with high blood pressure?’, and ‘Do you have diabetes?’
You can answer Yes, No, or I’m not sure. The questions are thorough, covering multiple symptoms. Consequently, with relative speed, the result is three possible causes, and red highlights if you need to seek medical advice.
The interface is clean, professional, simple to follow, and easy to understand. What’s more, Ada is thorough, with detailed explanations about each possible cause.
How Ada Works
Download the app to your phone
Register your email
Give GDPR consent
Provide optional data consent
The app asks base-line demographic & health questions
Enter your symptoms
Answer the chatbot questions
Receive a detailed result with three possible causes
Test Scores & Notable things about Ada
Out of all the apps covered by the UK’s British Medical Journal, Ada placed first in its coverage of medical conditions, scoring 99.0%. Ada also scored highest on symptom accuracy with 70.5%, compared to 82.0% achieved by real-life doctors.
Ada manages your data under the European GDPR data protection laws. However, you should consider where Ada is passing your data.
As a free service, Ada must be making money somehow. Selling data is a lucrative business.
Overall, Ada shows professionalism and reliability, offering the highest score for symptom assessment but cannot replace consultation with a health professional.
Wanting to create a bridge between patients and doctors, Andrew Le, from Harvard Medical School, founded Buoy health with the help of young software engineers. Consequently, they created a medical symptom assessment service, which is available via the website and for app download from the US iOS store.
The friendly chatbot asks symptom questions using AI algorithms connected to a medical database. As a result, the app offers three possible causes for your medical condition, treatment recommendations, and which options make the most financial sense.
Most apps work with a decision tree to proceed towards possible causes of your symptoms. However, Buoy uses statistics together with the patient’s unique circumstances to prioritize medical conditions.
The app searches its medical database, adapting its forecast, unique for each patient replying to each successive question. Accordingly, the system learns as it goes along.
The app’s interface is clean, simple, user-friendly, and easy to understand.
How Buoy Health Works
Go to the Buoy website
Receive three possible causes
Buoy suggests treatment options relative to your medical coverage
Allow Buoy to check back on your progress
Receive access to the buoy community
Test Scores & Notable things about Buoy
As a relatively new system, Buoy is learning, and for this reason, it placed second in the test with 88.5% for coverage of possible medical conditions, 43.0% for accuracy, and 80.0% for urgency.
However, you should consider your privacy rights. By signing up to Buoy, it appears you give away all your rights of data to third-party health insurers and providers. You may want to consider that before engagement.
Overall, Buoy appears professional, easy to use, with relatively good coverage of possible medical conditions, but you should use the service in consultation with a health professional.
Mediktor’s homepage opening gambit is ‘the most accurate AI-based medical assistant for triage, prediagnosis and decision-making support.’
Considering it scored third overall on a test by independent doctors for symptom assessment apps, that’s quite a statement. Mediktor continues with ‘The only app that is clinically validated.’
However, the question is, beyond the accuracy of those statements, is Mediktor an app you can rely on for answers to your symptoms?
In support of their claims, Mediktor operates in 180 countries and has a heavy focus on COVID-19 assessment, with the service available on the website and mobile apps.
Mediktor offers consultation with an online doctor. It also provides a Chatbot symptom assessment service that does an excellent job of using checkbox questions quickly. In fact, it even adds friendly emojis to describe your level of pain.
Remarkably, Mediktor is the only app to ask if you are male, female, or non-binary. No offense if you claim the latter. However, the question begs, what happens in gender-related medical conditions, such as pregnancy, periods, Turner syndrome, Rett syndrome, or ovarian and cervical cancers?
Mediktor takes a more hands-on approach and asks if you can take your blood pressure. What’s more, if you can’t, it asks about your location for recommendations.
Further, the app is thorough in symptom analysis, with detailed specifics on pain location with multiple-choice diagrams.
The results offer three suggestions, along with urgency. Also, a standout feature is putting you in direct contact with online medical professionals for a small fee.
How Mediktor Works
Download the app and register
Alternatively, use the website without registration
Give GDPR consent for your data
The app asks base-line demographic questions
Follow a series of comprehensive symptom questions
Get results with three possible causes
Test Scores & Notable things about Mediktor
Mediktor placed third on app tests with 80.5% on condition coverage, 36.0% on symptom accuracy, and 87.3% for the treatment’s urgency.
Mediktor abides by GDPR data protection rules, giving you the right to access the information they store. But it is uncertain how they use your data. For instance, it collects data related to the spread of COVID-19. However, the business model earns revenue from consultations with doctors.
For this reason, any deficiencies in chatbot coverage and accuracies Mediktor mitigates by offering consultation with a validated doctor.
WebMD is probably one of the most popular and trusted medical advisory sites, with medical news and a resource-rich online platform, especially if you want information about COVID-19.
The app is available for download on iOS and Android and reflects the website’s model, including a symptom checker.
You don’t have to register to check your symptoms, and WebMD scores a 4.4 app user rating, better than other apps, but not the highest.
Besides a symptom checker, WebMD also offers health tools– a BMI calculator, Calorie Counters, a low-cost drug finder, ovulation, and due date calculators. Furthermore, WebMD has other apps for specific groups and medical issues.
The app asks your age and gender and immediately about your symptoms. To illustrate this, the app disisplays an interactive anatomy diagram (non-binary) to click your condition’s location and symptom lookup tables.
Some of the terminologies may require going to medical school– do you know what subacromial bursal tenderness is? But there are plenty of more common symptom descriptions, such as a ‘lump on the shoulder.’
The interface is excellent. What’s more, you can add as many symptoms as desired to a list, and edit, if you change your mind. The app will update the result’s strength as you add more symptoms.
WebMD is well-thought-out, taking a different approach, displaying the stage you’re at, and ending with your condition details and suggestions for treatment, for instance.
In contrast, the app asks your opinion about which condition you think is likely. It will also provide Risk Factors and suggestions for treatment, advising consultation with a doctor, if need be.
How WebMD Works
Access the app on the website
Alternatively, download the mobile app
Answer basic gender-age questions
Add your symptoms to a list
Choose from a list of medical conditions
Get suggestions for treatment and consultation
Test Scores & Notable things about WebMD
Tests revealed WebMD scored 93.0% in possible medical conditions, ranking second-highest, but only 35.5% on symptom accuracy. The test could not examine urgency, as WebMD’s orientation is information resources.
As a US company, GDPR data protection rules don’t apply. However, the company is transparent about the information you submit to their services.
The service encourages consultation with medical professionals. Furthermore, the company has won several awards for medical journalism, connecting people with community programs, and providing reliable general health advice.
WebMD Pros & Cons
Excellent user interface
Interactive symptom assessment
Easy-to-use visual aids
Solid coverage of medical conditions
Comprehensive medical news and information
Abundant information about COVID-19
Free service without registration
Scored lower on chatbot symptom accuracy
5. K Health – Symptom Checker App & Tele-Med
Claiming ‘The #1 most downloaded medical app in the US.’ Let’s take the K Health symptom assessment app for a spin.
First off, the business model is different from other symptom checker apps, focusing on Tele-Med services. The company has 100+ online doctors ready to consult.
Secondly, for a relatively small fee, you can opt for a one-time ‘urgent visit.’ Alternatively, you can subscribe for an even lower-cost monthly fee; both require registration.
The service also includes a symptom checker app free and available for download on iOS and Android. The app’s current user rating is 4.0.
Once downloaded, asking the basics, name, gender, and age, the app lists your answers as you engage with ‘K,’ a chatbot. As a first response, K will boast of ‘anonymizing several million people with your age and sex and will be comparing your symptoms to theirs.’ For laypeople, that sounds painful, and one hopes they’ll be gentle.
Right off the bat, K asks for your email address, explaining you can use it to log in and review your medical history.
Once you’re in, the app soon offers interactive diagrams so you can point to where it hurts, with checkbox lists to describe your symptom and degree of pain.
The app also gives several possible conditions with their probability percentage and urgency of treatment. It also indicates how long each condition takes to treat, from several days to health issues that affect a lifetime.
How K Health Works
Use the website to register
Alternatively, download the mobile symptom checker
Choose chat with a doctor or use the symptom checker
Answer basic gender-age questions
Add your email address
Add your symptoms to a list
Get suggestions for treatment and consultation
Test Scores & Notable things about K Health
On the app assessment test, K Health scored 74.5% for medical condition coverage, 36.0% on symptom accuracy, and 81.3% on treatment urgency, in comparison to the four other apps, of which it came last
Aware of chatbot limitations in giving relevant answers to symptoms, K Health’s priority is Tele-Med with medical professionals. Hence, their symptom assessment app is a supportive tool.
K Health Pros & Cons
Tele-Med with a doctor online
Low-cost consultation subscriptions
Free, user-friendly symptom assessment app
Includes visual aids
Good coverage of medical conditions
High urgency score for seeing a medical professional
In conclusion, whichever app you choose to check your symptoms, make sure you consult with a doctor for professional advice and consider how the app uses your data when giving away your private information to a machine.
Tell us about your experience and which app suits your needs?
Reporting on California’s homeless, Invisible People share tent-dwellers’ stories on the new Skid Row, the outcome of years of disparity that’s only gotten worse since COVID19 gripped the economy. What can be done about it?
The story of Dirk
Dirk, 64 years old, originally from Idaho, has a tent in Venice Beach, California. Working as an independent contractor in Montana for 14 years, Dirk moved to California in January, at the start of the pandemic. It’s the first time he’s been homeless, his entire life, moving to get away from the cold winters.
“I decided I’d like to see a better climate because I’m tired. I’ve been in construction all my life. I’m tired. I’m tired of working. It’s time for me to retire.”
Dirk Reed, Tent Dweller, Venice Beach, Ca.
Dirk paid social security throughout his life, figuring it would provide for his security, filing two years ago only to learn he didn’t have enough credits. A self-employed carpenter, he made his final payment to social security on Memorial day and hopes now he has enough credits to receive a pension.
Living a stone’s throw from the beach since January, Dirk has stayed put since the pandemic started. Using a public restroom and a cold shower, he says, helps him cool off during summer. One wonders how he’ll react come winter.
Forever an optimist
Remarkably, Dirk remains an optimist, because regardless of whether one shares his religious belief, it’s his personal faith and recognition of humanity’s oneness that gives him hope.
Grateful for the food gifts passersby give him, Dirk feels that locals actually care. Beat cops allow him to remain there, as long as he’s on the sidewalk, ten feet away from the beach, and keeps the place clean.
Local government has allowed for the encampment during the pandemic, but by law, it’s a crime to live in a tent on the street. The problem is, that tent dwellers have adopted a mindset of bohemian freedom. Living on the street also saves paying municipal taxes and rent— something they’ll need to contend with when the pandemic is over.
Dirk has got to the point, that even if offered housing, he wants to remain in a tent and preferably on the beach, where the sand is softer on his bones. He’s aware that his presence disturbs local tax-paying residents.
US unemployment trends in the last four years
It would be reasonable to look at earning figures to understand the root cause of homelessness. The US unemployment stats in 2020 read like a heart-attack in a downward trend that’s been happening since 2008. COVID has spiked the numbers like Everest, a cruel assault on the global jobs market.
With U.S. unemployment down to 6.9% from 14.7% in April, economic recovery signs are evident. The government has yet to distribute Pfizer’s vaccine, and by the time it takes to kick in, the damage may be irreparable.
Yet there’s optimism that 2021 will surpass this year’s economic debacle and set the US on the road to long-term recovery. A lot depends on the incoming administration’s economic policies, bipartisanship, and whether politicians can see the bigger picture.
The increase in vulnerable aging homeless
For those that can financially ride out this period, unemployment is a trend that can be reversed with relative efficiency, as witnessed with the turnaround in employment numbers in the last quarter.
It’s the individuals and families that can’t survive who face devastation as wrecked livelihoods have driven thousands to the streets, a daunting reality from which to recover.
The latest research has estimated that close to 40 million people in the US are at risk of losing their homes in the next several months without immediate federal aid.
Reports since 2016 estimate that municipalities need $11.5 billion to accommodate 400,000 shelter beds. An aging population over 65 is more vulnerable to unemployment and becoming homeless. Furthermore, this group has a greater risk of COVID exposure than any other group in the US.
In Los Angeles, research shows that the 65+ population will grow by over 50% percent in the next five years.
“On any given night, New York City and Los Angeles County, two areas heavily impacted by COVID-19, are estimated to have 70,000 and 58,000 homeless individuals, respectively.”
Estimates show that over half a million people in the United States live in a homeless shelter or reside in a place unfit for habitation, a number that’s accelerated exponentially as a result of the pandemic. It’s only going to get worse.
What can we do to help?
How we respond or don’t respond to this rising crisis reflects upon our society and each one of us.
Several public figures have touted their escape from the West Coast’s reality— one excuse is the continuous lockdowns, but the main reason is the growing number of homeless camped outside their front door and neighborhood. The flight from the chaos highlights the urgent need for a call to action.
Governers in California and New York have allowed this prolonged tragedy to grow out of all proportion. There are programs to get homeless seniors into hotel rooms, with assigned case managers. Apparently, it’s not enough to cope with the crisis, as Dirk is still out on the street.
The need for better reporting
The elephant the media is ignoring is the upward spiral of the homeless that’s been happening long before 2020. The root cause is not unemployment. Setting aside this year’s gargantuan anomaly, unemployment has been on a downward trend for over a decade.
The primary problem lies in the level of earnings, and where high-skilled manufacturing is happening globally. In the US there’s been a trend towards lower-skilled lower-paying jobs. People may have jobs but can’t afford the high cost of housing and local taxes, stats not reflected in the unemployment numbers.
The move to online business, and technological developments, expose an apparent lack of workforce skills, having a dire effect on the economy. Manufacturing has been transferred to the Far East, primarily China. Just think about where your smartphone is made. What’s left for many in the US are lower-skilled jobs with an income that doesn’t match the cost of living or housing. Consequential depression, drug and alcohol abuse compound the issues.
A higher minimum wage is a stop-gap measure that won’t solve the problem in the long-run, and will only make it worse, forcing highly leveraged businesses to close. The real solution is the return of organic high-skilled employment with higher earnings.
Game-changing investment in jobs and retraining
Whichever administration is in charge in 2021, the US needs to continue developing opportunity zones in impoverished areas that encourage business growth through financial support and tax incentives. In these areas, cities must keep crime at bay, and certainly not defund the police, but rather invest more in training, and improving ways to work with communities. Ask any local resident, and they’ll tell you the same.
Most of all, the country needs a game-changing scheme addressing all ages to retrain the workforce with relevant skills. Such an initiative will take time and requires a minimum income for trainees. Accordingly, work retraining programs can obligate work contracts for guaranteed jobs, in the opportunity zones.
Another major issue is the need for an overhaul of what universities are charging for higher-education. It certainly doesn’t mean giving free education, which leads to abuse and a lack of accountability. Firstly, why should taxpayers be forced to pay for your choice in education?
Secondly, no one ever appreciates anything given away free. However, it does mean addressing the gross inefficiencies in the way universities are managed. The cost of education in the UK and Europe is a lot closer to a more sane approach to higher-education, where fees are more affordable, and repayment linked to later earnings.
In the UK, for example, there is a standard rate for undergraduate studies charged by all universities, however, the higher-ranking universities demand higher entrance requirements and are graded accordingly. Research grants are provided to universities that perform better and peer-reviewed.
A bipartisan approach to solving homelessness
The growing disparity in the US is evident. It’s notable that those with a steady guaranteed income, such as politicians, local government, scientists, and those working from home or in ‘essential services,’ are so easy to insist upon or accept further lockdowns.
When your income is secure and matches your cost of living, it’s easy to ignore the economic ramifications of lockdowns and the cost of living for low-paid tenuous jobs or self-employed, small businesses. If you’re looking to retrain the workforce, not much is going to happen during a lockdown.
COVID for the vulnerable is a frightening prospect, and the homeless are most vulnerable. Just as significant are lockdowns that have a more stark and long term economic consequence. Not only should states open the economy for business with precautionary measures, but municipalities need to take steps to invest much more to curb the homelessness wave.
It’s frightening how ‘The House’ could be so callous, playing partisan politics with the coronavirus relief bill, the price of which being the lives of the most vulnerable.
Incentivized retraining schemes will not answer the needs of an aging homeless population in the short-term. That requires permanent shelteredhousing on a mass scale. At the very least, we can contribute to the organizations that are aiding and bringing notice to this urgent cause.
Little has been achieved for the homeless by local government in major cities. We can be grateful for the nonprofits such as Shelter Partnership that carryout inspiring work to help the homeless on a shoe-string budget.
“We have a meeting of two diseases, the Coronavirus and the ‘Us and Them’ disease.”
Dirk Reed, Tent Dweller, Venice Beach, Ca.
Dirk’s wish is that we recognize each other as one and the same.
Homelessness is something many wish to ignore, until you can’t.
The truth is, Dirk’s right, there is no us and them. Our biggest failure is to recognize the inexpressible value of human life. We have the resources and knowledge. We just need the sense and willingness to apply them.
Witnessing fellow human beings living by the wayside is a justification for insomnia. It is astonishing that in this day with mankind’s’ advances in technology and abundant resources, that growing numbers of people and families are living in a tent or on the street.
Reading Time: 6minutesFeeling out of it, but don’t want the hassle of going to your doctor? The first headache is getting an appointment, then there’s the issue of showing up. Warnings buzz around the back of your head, like an annoying mosquito, ‘Don’t come in contact with others; keep your distance at all times.’
The question begs, when visiting your local clinic of all places, what are the chances of catching something worse?
Now a common dilemma— health authorities have seen a 60% decline in visits to the family doctors and health clinics in 2020, with a slow bounce-back since the peak of the pandemic.
With the aid of Artificial Intelligence, finding ways for patients to connect with health professionals while minimizing unnecessary risks of contact, is now in the spotlight of a collaborative focus between healthcare workers and the tech industry.
If you’re unfamiliar with Artificial intelligence (AI), it is the branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines capable of doing tasks that humans typically perform.
AI connects you to the right doctor faster with less risk
Google Cloud and Amwell have just announced a multi-year, strategic partnership to develop telehealth solutions on a global scale. Their aim is to use AI to automate waiting room management and checkout.
As health carers face patients that speak different languages, Google will provide automated language translation services, making it easier for doctors and patients to communicate. AI will also replace routine chores so that doctors can focus on the specialist tasks needing human intuition and decision-making for personalized healthcare.
Doctors seeing patients through video consultation is becoming a common occurrence. Whether you want to see a specialist such as a dermatologist or family doctor, video appointments minimize the risk of contact. Consulting with medical professionals has become much more accessible, without the need to sit in waiting rooms at the clinic, avoiding the risk of infection from other patients.
In the UK, AccuRx built a video chat tool to help family doctors stay in touch with patients during the pandemic. Telemedicine is here to stay. The COVID-era has accelerated the integration of video communication with health professionals into mainstream medicine, which has now become the new norm.
Despite these developments, not everyone has the privilege of quality private health insurance, and there is still the need to wait for a telehealth meeting with your doctor.
For those made recently unemployed, whose health insurance has lapsed or is about too, you may be deliberating about seeing a doctor. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the abundance of info online and the endless possible disorders, affecting you.
Your imagination can make many symptoms appear to be COVID-related, requiring you to read through a ton of information. It’s easy to be paranoid about being infected. The media too often magnifies the possibility that you’re the victim of some mysterious disease, despite not stepping out of your apartment for the last 100 days.
AI chatbots to the rescue
Buoy, a startup led by a young talented group of AI specialists and doctors, has developed a chatbot that guides patients to a diagnosis and medical attention in quick-time.
Used by Harvard medical school, Buoy diagnoses patients with a hand-held approach. The app leads you through a series of questions, asking for symptoms, then reaches a diagnosis, recommends treatment, and whether you need to see a doctor.
The app even asks what health insurance you have and location, a question you can skip if you’re unsure. Buoy also suggests where to go for assistance, and not in the proverbial sense. The app is available on your mobile or via the Buoy website.
But how much can you trust a robotic chatbot? A better question is, how honest and accurate are you when answering questions about your health? There’s also the concern, your answers and data are being shared with third parties, making you another big-data demographic target.
The app relies on your input, as a doctor hasn’t yet checked your symptoms, some you may have missed or thought are unrelated.
Babylon Health is another example of an AI chatbot that personalizes medical screening and even makes a video or a face-to-face appointment with a healthcare professional.
Despite misgivings, chatbots are the latest in a series of AI initiatives helping doctors make diagnosis and treatment more efficient, accurate, and cost-effective.
In fact, chatbots are becoming the frontline filter for directing patients to the right doctor and treatment, even a prerequisite to a video-appointment with a health professional.
AI diagnosis is quicker and more accurate
Reminiscent of an episode in Black Mirror, you chatted with a bot and tele-met with your doctor, resulting in you needing a blood check. You come into the clinic for the test, and the results are through in a snap.
AI blood diagnosis is now routinely analyzing deadly bacteria and blood diseases faster than you can decide on which pizza you’re going to order.
It’s not only about speed. The results are far more accurate. Microscopes at Beth Israel, Harvard U’s teaching hospital, integrate AI to scan for harmful bacteria in blood samples much faster than manual scanning carried out by a human. Scientists have examined thousands of blood samples using AI deep-learning, predicting disease with very high accuracy.
AI diagnosis was ramped up during the COVID19 pandemic. Rapid testing became healthcare’s number one priority. Beyond blood diagnosis, AI is detecting patients for COVID-19 through RT-PCR tests of genes in human cells, taken from test samples.
Whereas radiologists classified patients as being negative for COVID19, studies have shown that AI systems improve detection correctly, identifying symptoms with over 60% higher accuracy.
Zebra Medical Vision, based in Israel, specializes in AI assistive technology for radiologists. Whether it’s diagnosing early stages of lung cancer or osteoporosis, computers using AI, analyze MRIs CTs, and X-rays scans.
AI machine learning records the experience and knowledge of thousands of radiologists. Zebra’s system creates algorithms that identify markers of diseases and disorders in new patient scans, helping radiologists reach a diagnosis with faster and higher output. As technology advances, a daunting question for radiologists is, will they become a thing of the past, with AI-virtual-replacements?
Information can save your life
If there’s a remote chance, you fall ill and rushed to the hospital, the first thing is to register and be directed to the right department. How often have you been stuck at Reception while you brief administrators on your personal details and symptoms?
Qventus AI software helps prioritize patience through emergency rooms while maintaining patient safety through the risk of infection within a medical environment. The software prioritizes patients according to illness and injury. It even tracks current waiting times and helps ambulance services calculate the fastest route to the most appropriate medical facility.
When you finally meet the doctor, you’re often asked a barrage of questions about your health, circumstance, and symptoms. If your medical history is not in the system, the diagnosis can take much longer until tests are completed, and a diagnosis is made.
What if your entire medical history was already in the system?
CloudMedX uses AI deep learning to gather and analyze data and direct patients through the healthcare system. The software helps hospitals and clinics manage patient medical data, storing their clinical history, and even patients’ payment information. The insights provided help doctors and patients make better decisions based on the health context, backdrop, and insurance cover.
Tempus is another company that stores the most extensive collection of clinical and molecular data. Their operating system makes data accessible to doctors in real-time, available for personalized care, with the best options based on the context of a patient’s medical history and current circumstance. Real-time data retrieval saves thousands of hours looking up medical data and records, offering suggested procedures, without which, may not have been considered.
How much will AI healthcare integration cost you?
In light of these AI developments, you may want to ease up on the paranoia about giving your personal information away. Nevertheless, a worrying issue when applying for health insurance is whether pre-existing conditions are covered. If your medical history exposes a previous condition, outside the terms of your policy, treatment can be costly.
It opens the debate about the need for Medicare and nationalized health insurance, such as the UK’s NHS, or free healthcare, available in Europe. But there are downsides to free healthcare. Nationalized health insurance is notorious for long waiting lists, and treatments that are not covered in the budget, only available with private insurance.
How far are you willing to let AI and personal data collection, take control of your life?
The benefits of AI are blatantly obvious. Reaching an informed diagnosis with timely treatment can save your life.
Yet, in light of the pandemic with high-unemployment and risk of infection, affordable quality healthcare has become a big concern for millions. AI technology is advancing patient care in mind-boggling ways you wouldn’t imagine.
The big question remains, who will benefit, and who will fall by the wayside, as AI and data collection increases its grip on your life. At a time when you are most vulnerable, are you Ok with a machine making decisions about your healthcare?