New CDC Bot Helps Self-Assess COVID-19 Symptoms

A new website bot from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help members of the public decide what type of medical care to seek if they are exhibiting symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The “coronavirus self-checker,” named Clara, considers symptoms and other risk factors through a conversational online assessment to help individuals decide the “right level” of clinical care. Launched through Microsoft’s Azure platform, it considers factors such as location, age, and physical symptoms.

In a March 20 blog post, Microsoft explains that Clara utilizes the company’s existing Healthcare Bot service. The service relies on artificial intelligence to help “frontline organizations” respond to COVID-19 inquiries and free up healthcare professionals for other critical care.

“The need to screen patients with any number of cold or flu-like symptoms … is a bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis,” Microsoft wrote in the post, but services such as the CDC chatbot help overcome that hurdle. In addition to risk assessment, the bot offers three other services: clinical triage based on CDC protocols, answers to frequently asked questions, and worldwide COVID-19 metrics.

CDC did not immediately respond to a MeriTalk request for comment.

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