It happens to the best of us: a prolonged cough, rash on your body or other symptom leads you to check WebMD, and after going down a rabbit hole you're convinced you have a fatal diagnosis.
Buoy Health hopes to cure hypochondriacs of this syndrome. The company created an online tool that uses artificial intelligence to address health concerns as they arise. Its conversational interface walks people through their symptoms, asking them questions and then pointing to the best method of care.
On Thursday, the company announced that it raised a $15 million Series B funding round.
While Buoy doesn't replace doctors, it acts as an introductory step to addressing a health concern. So people can ask the questions that they are too nervous to make a doctor appointment for.
“When people get sick today, they have to turn into a medical student and an insurance expert,” Buoy CEO Dr. Andrew Le said in a statement. “I went into medicine thinking that clinicians are the front-door of health care. They're not. The internet is. And, when people are sick, they're left to drown in the complexity of information on the web, leaving them feeling helpless, alone and scared.”
According to the company, there's been a rise in unnecessary visits to the emergency room, which strains resources for all patients. Buoy says that it's been able to “de-escalate the intent for nearly 40 percent of E.R. visits” by acting as a digital triage.
The Buoy site has 6.7 million annual interactions and 3.7 million completed self-triage interviews, but the company is looking to gain even more by using the new funding to expand. It's hoping to come to more U.S. markets and offer personalized services to specific demographics — such as Baby Boomers and Medicaid recipients.