Isabel FAQs

1. How is Isabel different from other symptom checkers?

Isabel is built in a very different way to other symptom checkers utilizing sophisticated Artificial Intelligence technology which searches over 6,000 disease presentations - many more than other tools. Most importantly, Isabel can understand multiple symptoms entered in everyday language. Other tools restrict the user to entering just one single symptom, or force them to select common symptoms from a list or body map, severely limiting the user’s ability to accurately describe their own problem.

2. Why should I trust the results from Isabel?

Isabel Symptom Checker is adapted from the Isabel Differential Diagnosis (DDx) Generator which has been used by doctors in hospitals around the world for almost two decades and is widely recognised in the medical community as one of the most accurate on the market. The tool has been professionally validated over many years with several peer-reviewed articles appearing in medical journals.

3. Is Isabel better than ‘Dr Google’?

They are completely different tools so shouldn’t really be compared. Google is a general search tool which covers everything and uses Google’s specific ranking algorithms whereas Isabel is designed solely to understand symptoms and search for medical diagnoses. Isabel will do a much better job at helping you to research and narrow down your diagnosis.

4. Why should I bother with all this research rather than just going to see the doctor?

We understand that many patients, particularly when feeling worried and unwell, will not want to go through this process. However, today’s doctors are increasingly time- pressured and may not be able to offer you an appointment quickly. During your consultation, they will not always have the time to go through your case in detail or, in some cases, the skills and knowledge to work out your diagnosis, particularly if it’s rare or your presentation is unusual. Doctors are only human and make mistakes like the rest of us, especially if what you’re suffering from is unusual. You can considerably improve the chances of getting a correct diagnosis first time if you are informed by working through your symptoms and case history so you can present an accurate report to your doctor of what you are experiencing and ask better questions.

5. Do I still need to see a doctor after using Isabel?

Almost certainly yes. You should not use Isabel as a substitute for going to see your doctor but as a tool to help you decide which type of doctor to see and make your consultation more productive with the aim of reaching the correct diagnosis more quickly.

6. Why don’t you have an Apple or Android App?

The Isabel website has been designed and built so that it automatically fits and works on the screen of any device, from a desktop to mobile phone, so a separate App is not necessary.

7. Why do you only allow 5 searches a day?

It is thanks to funding from our original founding charity, The Isabel Medical Charity, that we are able to offer the Symptom Checker free for use by patients. However, we need continual funding to keep our products constantly updated and at the forefront of medical technology and, therefore, need to charge healthcare institutions to access our professional diagnostic tool. We introduced the daily limit on the Isabel Symptom Checker to avoid regular use by healthcare institutions. If you require more searches each day, you can register for a free account.

8. Will Isabel remain free to use?

Yes, for the foreseeable future.

9. Can Health Professionals use this tool?

No, it is designed for use by patients. Health Professionals should use our professional system available at https://www.isabelhealthcare.com/ which covers disease presentations in much greater medical depth and has special features to enable health professionals to refine their differential diagnosis. It also has direct access to professional, evidence-based, medical resources.

10. Why does Isabel give me 10 diagnoses or more? Can’t you narrow it down?

There are very few symptoms which indicate just one single diagnosis; almost all symptoms have many potential causes. It is not possible or credible for a computer to give you the exact diagnosis or even narrow it down to two or three. Isabel’s job is to show you the most likely causes of your symptoms so you can read up on them and discuss with your doctor. A computer does an excellent job at giving you a shortlist but cannot be relied on for the final diagnosis.

11. Is the first diagnosis in the list the most likely one?

The order of the diagnoses is by relevance and does NOT indicate the degree of clinical likelihood for you. You should review all diagnoses in the show 10 and “show all” rather than focussing too much on just the first diagnoses. You can also sort the results to highlight the ‘Common’ or ‘Red flag’ diagnoses.

12. Can I put my test results into Isabel?

Yes, you can include any positive test results (do not enter normal or negative results). However, you need to enter what the result means in words and not numbers. For example, don’t enter: “blood pressure 160/100” but instead enter “high blood pressure”.

13. How does putting in my age affect the results?

The results will reflect the prevalence of the diagnoses based on the age range you have entered.

14. If I’m transgender, which gender should I enter?

This will depend on the medication or surgery you have undertaken and what stage you are at if you are undergoing gender reassignment. It may be best to run your symptoms in both genders and obtain a list which you can then work up with your doctor depending on your own case history.

15. I might be pregnant but I’m not sure. Should I click the ‘Pregnancy’ button?

If you suspect you may be pregnant then select ‘Not specified’ and you will receive results taking into consideration you may be pregnant.

16. What does the red flag next to a diagnosis mean?

A red flag means a diagnosis which should be treated as an emergency, so if you think this diagnosis accurately fits your symptoms, you should seek care immediately at the Emergency Room or make urgent contact with your Family Physician.

17. If a diagnosis has ‘Common’ next to it, what does this mean?

‘Common’ means this diagnosis is seen in more than 50 per 100,000 of population. Statistically, anybody is more likely to have one of the ‘common’ diagnoses, but this is a very crude indicator and what is more important and clinically significant is how your symptoms fit with the descriptions you will find in the knowledge resources.

18. If my doctor has given me a diagnosis and I’ve developed some new symptoms, what should I do?

A diagnosis often becomes clearer over time so enter your new pattern of symptoms and check the results. If you feel the diagnosis you have been given no longer fits then discuss this with your doctor. However, do not make any changes to medication you may have been given without discussing with your doctor first.

19. If I think I’ve picked up something from travelling in another country, what do I do?

You should then use the ‘Travel History’ function and click on the region you travelled from. The Symptom Checker will then include diseases that are more prevalent in that region. This will be particularly useful for your doctor who may be less familiar with tropical diseases.

20. If I’ve got a report from my doctor, can I enter everything he’s written, or do I have to list each symptom individually?

You can enter what has been written but you will get the best results if you enter each symptom on a separate line.

21. If I want to find out more about a diagnosis, what do I do?

Click on the diagnosis and a knowledge page containing medical information resources will open for you to read up on disease information.

22. Can I email my results to my doctor?

Yes, this is a very good idea and can be done using the email function button on the right of the results. You can also add your comments.

23. If I’m not sure how urgent my illness is, can Isabel help?

The ‘Where to now?’ triage function invites you to answer further questions about your problem. It will then provide a recommendation on where to seek medical treatment: in the Emergency Room, with your Family Practitioner or at a walk-in clinic facility.

24. Do you allow other institutions to use your symptom checker in their product?

Yes, we make our API available for a charge and encourage hospitals and health sites to integrate the Isabel Symptom Checker into their systems. If you are interested to learn more, please visit https://www.isabelhealthcare.com/products/symptom-checker.

If you have any questions that were not answered by the above, please send an email to: scfeedback@isabelhealthcare.com


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Meet Isabel

Want to know more about the beginnings of Isabel Healthcare and Isabel Symptom Checker? it started with a near-fatal misdiagnosis of a 3 year old girl.


See our guide

We have a printable guide packed with all our advice and tips on using a symptom checker and visiting your doctor. Download it for free here and have a read.