VA Releases COVID-19 Chatbot

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a new chatbot this week to respond to frequently asked COVID-19 questions, including triaging symptoms, telehealth troubleshooting, and rescheduling appointments.

The chatbot is also integrated with My HealtheVet’s secure message portal, VA311, and local VA Medical Centers to redirect questions as needed. Built in three weeks, VA relied on the Microsoft Healthcare Bot platform and an agile methodology to quickly implement the new tech.

“We were able to leverage the Microsoft Healthcare Bot platform that was used to launch the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] chatbot. We could also quickly leverage authoritative content developed for other channels,” Denise Kitts, executive director of multichannel technology at the Veterans Experience Office, said.

According to a May 19 blog post, VA has been processing a surge in calls from veterans during the coronavirus pandemic. The agency developed the chatbot to allow veterans to access necessary information and get their questions answered “from virtually anywhere, at any time.”

“It has been incredible to see VA staff from across the agency come together and deliver creative solutions,” VA CTO Charles Worthington said. “This product is a great example of VA’s commitment to using new technologies to improve our services.”

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