Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot helps screen patients for COVID-19

IN a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not only important to deliver medical care but to also provide information to help people make decisions and prevent health systems from being overwhelmed.

Microsoft is helping with this challenge by offering its Healthcare Bot service powered by Microsoft Azure to organisations on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response to help screen patients for potential infection and care.

For example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released a COVID-19 assessment bot that can quickly assess the symptoms and risk factors for people worried about infection, provide information and suggest the next course of action such as contacting a medical provider or, for those who do not need in-person medical care, managing the illness safely at home.

The bot, which utilises Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service, will initially be available on the CDC website.

Public health organisations, hospitals, and others on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response need to be able to respond to inquiries, provide the public with up-to-date outbreak information, track exposure, quickly triage new cases and guide next steps.  Many have expressed great concern about the overwhelming demand COVID-19 is creating on resources such as urgent, emergency and nursing care.

In particular, the need to screen patients with any number of cold or flu-like symptoms — to determine who has high enough risk factors to need access to limited medical resources and which people may more safely care for themselves at home — is a bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis.

Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service is one solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help the CDC and other frontline organisations respond to these inquiries, freeing up doctors, nurses, administrators, and other healthcare professionals to provide critical care to those who need it.

The Healthcare Bot service is a scalable Azure-based public cloud service that allows organisations to quickly build and deploy an AI-powered bot for websites or applications that can offer patients or the general public personalised access to health-related information through a natural conversation experience. It can be easily customised to suit an organisation’s own scenarios and protocols.

To assist customers in the rapid deployment of their COVID-19 bots, Microsoft is making available a set of COVID-19 response templates that customers can use and modify:

  • COVID-19 risk assessment based on CDC guidelines
  • COVID-19 clinical triage based on CDC protocols
  • COVID-19 up-to-date answers to frequently asked questions
  • COVID-19 worldwide metrics

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