By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – We’ve all done it — felt an ache or pain and jumped online to diagnosis ourselves.  Those internet answers can be scary and flat-out wrong.

A Boston start-up now wants to change the way we give ourselves these online check-ups.

“You’ll hear people say all the time ‘I put in cough and I got lung cancer. I put in headache and I had a brain tumor,’ ” said Andrew Le, describing the possible results someone might get when googling their own symptoms.

Le is CEO of Boston-based, a new website that wants to be your first online stop when you’re not feeling well.

“Our goal is to replace googling your symptoms, not to replace doctors,” said Le, a recent graduate of Harvard Medical School.

buoyfounder Boston Start Up Hopes To Revolutionize Online Check Ups

Andrew Le, CEO of (WBZ-TV)

He said the company’s vision is to replace some of the symptom trackers currently available like WebMD and Google.

Le said Buoy offers a more personalized approach.

“We have 1,700 possible diagnoses. And based on your age and gender we have already started to narrow the questions possible, but also the number of diagnoses possible,” said Le.

When users log onto the site, they are asked a series of questions.

“You answer it and then in real-time those 33,000 questions get re-ranked so the next most important question gets asked,” Le said.

buoygraphic Boston Start Up Hopes To Revolutionize Online Check Ups

(WBZ-TV graphic)

WBZ-TV’s Dr. Mallika Marshall got her own demonstration to see if the website would correctly diagnose a case of strep throat.  Buoy asked questions like how much her throat hurt, if she had any joint pain, and if she felt sick enough to go to the ER.

Le explained all of the questions were being generated in real-time determined by the answers to the previous questions.  After a few minutes, Buoy came back with three possible diagnoses, the first one correctly being strep throat.

Buoy is free for anyone to use. Along with a possible diagnosis, the site includes what steps a patient should consider taking next.  Like all online symptom trackers, this is not an actual diagnosis, and you’ll still need to see a doctor for confirmation and treatment.


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