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How AI and Microsoft Azure are helping battle the Coronavirus outbreak

by Tony Pimpo
3 minutes read

What role can technology play during a health crisis? How can the government and the technology industry work together during a pandemic? We’re beginning to see answers to those questions take shape. Immune system mapping, quantum computing for vaccine research, a scientific literature database of all known information on COVID-19 (coronavirus) – these are just a few of the ongoing efforts.

We can now add another one to the list – one that will touch patients directly. Providence, Virginia Mason Health System, and Novant Health are a few of the private organizations around the country that have utilized Microsoft’s Azure Healthcare Bot service to deliver superior service. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has followed suit with a new tool to screen potential patients. 

The Coronavirus Self-Checker is known to users as “Clara.” The tool uses artificial intelligence and walks users through questions that include risk factors and symptoms. The goal is to provide accurate information to users worried about contracting the virus, while providing the next steps for those who need care.

A nervous public is inundating hospitals and doctor offices around the country with phone calls and walk-ins. An issue for health care is allocating limited resources to those who are most in need. These resources include tests, as well as hospitalization. The CDC designed the Coronavirus Self-Checker to assist with this problem, supplying accurate information to those who need it. Microsoft says a big target audience for these apps are the “worried well” – people who are healthy or are not experiencing symptoms but are worried that they have contracted the virus. 

As of March 21st, Providence reports 40,000 user sessions for its coronavirus app. The application whittled these sessions down to just 6,000 referrals for a video consultation with a physician. This screening process is invaluable, enabling health care providers to focus on cases where medical assistance is determinative. 

The Azure platform is adaptable and scales very quickly. Novant was able to launch its healthcare bot within a few days. 

Microsoft’s latest numbers state that users are sending 1 million messages per day through these services. With the launch of the Coronavirus Self-Checker, this number will increase dramatically. 

Microsoft has made templates available to healthcare providers and organizations at the forefront of dealing with this crisis. These will expedite the deployment of healthcare bots during the crisis, saving organizations from reinventing the wheel with each implementation. These templates include: 

  • 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 supp

If your organization needs assistance in developing an Azure application, Dynamic Consultants Group is ready to help. Contact us today for more information.