CDC taps Microsoft to build COVID-19 triage chatbot

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The CDC launched its "Coronavirus Self-Checker" on March 20 to guide Americans who may have COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, to appropriate medical care.

The self-checker comprises an artificial intelligence-powered online chatbot named Clara, that asks a series of demographic and medical questions to assess users' risk of having contracted COVID-19 and direct them to contact a healthcare provider or self-isolate if necessary.

The CDC used Microsoft's customizable Healthcare Bot service as a starting point to create its own chatbot, in hopes of lessening some of the burden on U.S. healthcare providers to assess at-risk patients. The Healthcare Bot now features several templates based on CDC guidelines and protocols.

The Microsoft software is hosted on the Azure cloud, making it scalable and customizable to various clients; Renton, Wash.-based Providence, Seattle-based Virginia Mason Health System and Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant Health have all deployed their own versions of the chatbot for COVID-19 triage, according to a March 20 Microsoft news release.


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