By Aaron Tilley


Microsoft is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a number of major healthcare providers to deploy a chat bot to help tackle the coronavirus crisis.

The Microsoft-powered chatbot guides users through self assessment and connects them to additional resources and medical professionals if the patient has been determined to be at risk.

The use of a chatbot is one of several efforts underway offered by tech companies to help assist in the crisis. A Google-affiliated website, for example, was launched this week to help direct potential coronavirus patients to testing sites.

The chatbot is already deployed in nine health systems around the world, with around 20 coming online soon, said Microsoft. It was first deployed in a limited fashion on March 5th on the website of healthcare provider Providence, and then fully deployed to every user on March 8th. On the Providence website, it asks a number of questions based on CDC guidelines, and depending on the answers, it gives an option to contact a doctor or do a virtual video visit.

The CDC launched the bot it calls the "Coronavirus Self-Checker" Thursday.

For Providence, more than 40,000 sessions of people visiting the website and more than a million messages sent between people and bot. To date, there were more than 6,000 hand-offs to a video consultation. "It's just something consumers need now to help with anxiety," said Maryam Gholami, chief product officer of Digital Innovations at Providence.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 19, 2020 19:50 ET (23:50 GMT)

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