Zana is a free medical database, news site, product marketplace, and AI assistant that responds to health questions with trusted medical information. You can search their online platform by topic to learn about specific medical conditions, preventative measures, and suggested treatments, or you can ask questions directly through Facebook Messenger or Amazon Alexa.
Zana’s online database is easy to navigate and full of thorough information on a variety of medical conditions. All content is reportedly reviewed by medical experts and includes in-depth descriptions of symptoms, causes, treatments, advice for when to seek medical attention, and patient stories highlighting real experiences with various conditions. I found this last aspect to be particularly helpful for those coming to terms with a new diagnosis or trying to better understand a condition’s impact on their lives and those around them.
It’s nice that Zana has offerings beyond its database as well. The health news section offers accessible digests of recent medical studies as well as stories about health more generally, from the effects of screen time to the causes of Alzheimer’s. The Zana Marketplace also allows you to peruse new, tech-focused health products that you might not find elsewhere.
As someone who all too frequently relies upon the internet for answers to my medical questions, I was really intrigued by a service developed specifically for this purpose. Sadly, the assistance it provided wasn’t personalized enough to differentiate it from searching any other medical database like the Mayo Clinic or the CDC. The lists of symptoms, causes, and treatments were all very generic, and between the fact that the AI didn’t always recognize conditions (such as HPV) and its inability to propose diagnoses based on symptoms made it very impractical to use.
The formatting of text was also an issue on Zana; both on the website and in Ask Zana messages, words were often clumped together without spaces, and words and titles that were supposed to have hyperlinks did not. These are minor concerns, but they demonstrate a sloppiness that made me question the professionalism of the site and its creators.
One final concern I had was that most treatments recommended on Zana didn’t consider home remedies or anything beyond traditional Western medicine. For example, treatments for a sore throat included a list of painkillers, whereas common home remedies such as a saltwater gargle, cough drops, or hot water with honey were not mentioned at all. While some alternative treatments were listed for medical conditions like fibromyalgia, such as acupuncture and massage, this was not the norm.
I think Zana has a long way to go before I can recommend it. It isn’t reliable or personalized to the degree it claims, and it isn’t significantly different from other medical databases. While it isn’t a bad resource, especially since it’s free, Zana has yet to prove that it’s worth using.Image: by Zana