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by Vagelis H. 12/02/2020

As in-person contact has become increasingly hard with all the quarantine measures, patients turn to online options to get information on COVID-19, evaluate their symptoms or get advice. Live chat and telemedicine services, such as CVS Micro Clinic Video Visit, are overloaded and have long waiting lines.

Hence, there is a need to turn to more scalable solutions, and chatbots are such a solution, as they are good at scaling routine chat interactions. So how can chatbots be used?

Use Case 1: Answer common questions

A simple and effective use is to load to the chatbot FAQs from reliable sources like CDC, WHO, or local healthcare agencies. SmartBot360 has created such a COVID-19 FAQ bot, which is made available to its customers (or free trial accounts) as a free chatbot template. Similarly, WhatApp has built a bot for common COVID-19 questions. Once an initial FAQ chatbot is built, an administrator should maintain it, by updating the information and adding new content.

Use Case 2: Screen patients

A chatbot can ask questions to the patient and the probability that the patient is infected with COVID-19. The questions are typically a combination of demographics (age, gender, location), symptoms (shortness of breath, fever) and lifestyle (recent trips, daily activities). As an example, CDC has partnered with Microsoft to create such a screening bot. As another example, Jiseki Health is using SmartBot360’s platform to deploy state-specific screening chatbots on SMS.

Use Case 3: Push customized information to the right population segments

This is the natural next step after screening patients for COVID-19. For example, if the screening showed that the patient is high-risk because of her lifestyle (e.g. works at supermarket), the chatbot could send daily reminders and tips on how to protect herself or how to get tested close to her work. As another example, if someone lives with elderly at home, the bot should remind them of the risks of his lifestyle to them. Such follow-up bots must be deployed on non-Web media like SMS, Messenger or WhatsApp, as it is not possible for a Web bot to initiate a conversation.

This last use case is still to be realized to the best of our knowledge. Let’s all try to do our part using the best available tools to mitigate this health crisis.

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