UMD graduates create virtual COVID-19 symptom checker

Clearstep is free and easy to use
Posted at 5:20 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 17:31:09-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — It’s the new normal... virtual healthcare, and a website developed by University of Maryland graduates is helping check people symptoms and connect them with providers.

After graduating from the University of Maryland, Adeel Malik, Bilal Naved and Peter Gaber teamed up with friend David Zbarsky to help solve a problem: patients not knowing what their symptoms meant or where to go for treatment.

"We were really seeing at the macro-industry level how much waste and spending there was as a result of people going to the wrong point of care and how many missed opportunities there were to deliver the right care," said co-founder Adeel Malik.

So they created Clearstep, an AI-driven symptom checker.

"To make it much easier for people to know what care they need, where they should go get it and how much it might cost," said Malik.

They used telephone triage protocols used in nurse call centers to create a network of automatic responses. Users describe their symptoms and the chatbot determines where the patient should go for treatment or provides telemedicine options.

"You can pick based off what you might be eligible for in your insurance," said co-founder Bilal Naved.

It covers almost 500 chief complaints and when the pandemic hit, they fused in the CDC’s protocols.

"We took the protocols and put them together and made a screener that allows one to check for COVID risk but also check for other things that could be going on that may still need medical attention," said Naved.

Clearstep now averages 100,000 virtual screenings every two weeks.

The founders think this access to care virtually will be the new normal and Clearstep can help long after the pandemic

"How do you know if you actually should use telemedicine or you should go to the urgent care this time, or you actually you need an in-person test so you might as well just go to the in person primary care doctor, ER or wherever it might be," said Malik.

Clearstep is free to use and is being integrated into several health care systems in other states.