top of page

About BTRU AI

Daily Mail UK Interview with Founder, Ian SOH
Journalist - Chloe Louise O' Connor
Date: 7th June 2023

BTRU.ai, pronounced "better you”, strives to stand out as the Google search but for healthcare. It was founded and created by 22-year-old, 4th year St George’s university of London medical student, Ian Soh who led independent global Covid-19 youth movement #MoreViralThanTheVirus a few years ago.

Since Ian’s first year of medical school, at the start of COVID-19, Ian’s been trying to tackle the problem COVID-19 misinformation with #MoreViralThanTheVirus by promoting reliable health information on social media. Today, he is applying his experience from COVID across all other medical conditions. Ian and his team have been working on BTRU.ai to provide a seamless experience for potential patients wanting to know more about their health. With its plain blue and white colour theme the site illustrates simplicity in use.

BTRU.ai was inspired by Ian’s experience in leading the #MoreViralThanTheVirus movement. He got the experience in [addressing] misinformation and after working on it for such a long time, now he wanted to make it a bit practical. He understands that not everyone has been to medical school, or is able to navigate online and work out whether this or that is a reliable site. Technology should come into play to help leverage which website is reputable or otherwise.

1. What sets this apart from Google and other medical chatbots?

Before I can answer this question, we must first recognise the existing problem on Google and other medical chatbots.

 

Let’s first start with Google, when you are on Google [looking for answers] about Diabetes, for example, you get advertisements, [come across] unreliable health sources, and risk being misinformed. These are the problems that people don’t think about, but it is very real, as exemplified back in 2020 with the problems of Covid-19 misinformation that was going around. Above all, what should have been a positive search experience may have just brought some people more anxiety instead. At BTRU.ai, we have reimagined this and proposed a better way to search.

 

While with regards to non-medical chatbots like ChatGPT, they have 2 main problems, one is that they don’t reference their sources and the other is that their search results are generalised, non-specific to you as they do not have your health records to tailor with your search. Medicine is evidenced based, being able to identify sources of information is very important. At BTRU, we are addressing these 2 problems to stand out from non-specific medical chatbots.

Medical chatbots that exist to name a few are HealthGPT.plus, DrGupta.ai, Glass.health etc. For medical chatbots like HealthGPT.plus or DrGupta.ai, they are built for patients, positioned to diagnose, treat and replace doctors. While Glass.health is built by doctors for doctors. BTRU.ai mainly serves as a tool to educate the public based on their queries. It does not try to provide diagnoses or medical advice for self-treatment.

2. Is this BTRU AI gender-neutral?

Yes, BTRU.ai is gender neutral.

3. What are you hoping to achieve with this new piece of technology in the future?

I believe in a time when people from all backgrounds can take control of their health, find reliable health information and make sense of their health, to live their healthiest and best life with the help of technology, bridging the gap between health providers and individuals. Can you imagine, regardless of background or wealth, someone who has not studied Medicine can use this piece of technology and get the best health information? There are 3 main objectives that I have set out for BTRU.ai to achieve this.

First, in future, BTRU.ai strives to be a one-stop platform to provide credible health information. The replies will be personalised to the individual’s health records, provided with links for further reading, supported with visuals, and capabilities of a voice assistant. The first step we have taken so far is to help people solve the problem of finding reliable health information. To achieve this, we have recently released a beta version of BTRU.ai.

Presently, I believe BTRU.ai will make waves of changes in clinical practice, where the patient uses BTRU.ai to search before and after seeing a clinician. We want to help save the patient time, by identifying the reputable health sources for them. The effect of this, with an empowered and informed patient, will hopefully help the doctor have more time with their patient. In all, we believe we can help cut through the noise and clutter in the widely-available information space, provide personalised replies.

While some may disagree with me, I believe we can't stop people from searching online, we must find a way to give people the search experience they truly deserve and take away the anxiety that comes with the search. I believe that people have the right to educate themselves about their health or, better still, become more aware of their health problems.

Second, BTRU.ai strives to be able to help with providing personalised health advice. As of this point, we are not there yet. We want to overcome GDPR (general data protection regulation) and data compliance issues. We have yet to successfully go over that. We will, in time. But when we do, with your consent [to share data] we will then learn the way you search [on BTRU.ai].

Third, the “magic” happens when a user’s unique search traits will help BTRU.ai form a picture of his or her condition before the person arrives physically at the hospital. This will enable BTRU.ai to be able to help with predictive diagnosis to help assist doctors in their clinical workup. Currently, what others have trained their AI on is data based on the medical records of patients already in the hospital. But not the data on what happened when they were not in the hospital. [For instance] if they had searched about a headache three weeks ago. This may be valuable information we are missing clinically today. In essence, there is a goldmine of health data which does not exist right now, concerning people’s search habits before they seek medical help. When combined with existing data, doctors will have a clearer picture with which to come to a diagnosis.

With all the current strikes within the NHS about pay, we have not solved the problem of long A&E waiting times, stressed GP services. I believe BTRU.ai is the short and long-term answer for both doctors in their practice and saving health systems like the NHS.

4. What makes BTRU AI reliable?

BTRU.ai streamlines information that is already available. BTRU.ai is trained on a walled garden. The answers provided by BTRU.ai are based on verified authoritative sources including the National Health Service (NHS) and the World Health Organisation. BTRU.ai does not write a piece of new information on [for example] diabetes. BTRU.ai constructs an organised response which will tell you what you need to know about the condition.

5. Do you believe AI is the future of medical care?

Technology like AI, has the gift of being a force for good. AI should be helping us to bridge the gap between health providers and individuals, to achieve better health outcomes. I believe in a time when people can take control of their health, find reliable health information and make sense of their health, no matter their background. I strongly believe BTRU.ai is the answer and a representation of how AI can help future medical care, in ways such as aiding doctors in their work.

However, I believe there is a degree to the role of AI in the future of medical care that we must draw. In instances, where people especially from non-medical backgrounds are building their own AI medical chatbots or tools like HealthGPT.plus or DrGupta.ai, they are positioned to self-diagnose, treat and replace doctors. As a future clinician, I cannot stand for this, my concern isn't about being replaced by medical chatbots, but the potential harm from incorrect diagnoses. AI in its current state has yet to reach a level of sophistication that can provide actual medical diagnoses. While the limitations are clear, in the future, advancements in technology or medical practice may change my stance. But given today's risks, I remain firm. This is why clinicians must be at the forefront of the narrative, to help steer it from the dangers that people from non-health backgrounds may not understand.
 

Now, more than ever, we are in the midst of an AI boom. It will become increasingly important to be able to discern and distinguish from AI “misinformation”. The bar is higher as AI-produced content is persuasive and not as easily identifiable as dubious sources like during Covid-19. It is not as straightforward now. At BTRU.ai, I'm dedicated to tackling this issue, raising awareness about it, leveraging from my close to 5-year experience in “Infodemic” management at MoreViralThanTheVirus.

As a founder of BTRU.ai I want to be ethical. I want to be conscientious in what I am building. For example, when Facebook was founded it was meant to help people connect but people never thought about the mental health issues that would have come along. I want to build in the eyes of the world to show that I mean it.

bottom of page