OSF HealthCare has launched an updated digital solution to help educate and triage people who are concerned about COVID-19 and risking exposure to go to a doctor's office.
OSF Vice President of Digital Care Abby Lotz said Clare is a virtual assistant chatbot that can educate the public about COVID-19 symptoms.
The chatbot, Lotz said, asks relevant follow-up questions about symptoms, travel history and whether a person is aware if they’ve been exposed to others with the illness. If necessary, Clare will direct patients to a newly established triage line. Lotz said the chatbot serves as a trustworthy source for individuals who are still learning about the virus while practicing social distancing.
“We know that we are receiving an influx in the volume of phone calls to our practices and hospitals, so this we felt like was a very easy accessible digital tool that people can access at any point in time to get answers more quickly,” Lotz said. “They want to have a little bit of reassurance and they want some additional self-care guidance.”
Most businesses are urging employees to work from home to slow the spread of COVID-19 as Gov. JB Pritzker gave a shelter in place order that commands citizens to stay home and allows only essential business to remain open. Lotz said having a digital solution like Clare serves a similar purpose. And she said the function is similar to other services provided by most organizations.
“We all like to order our coffee online, we all like to get our Starbucks instantly and waiting for us because it’s available,” Lotz said. “I see Clare at this point in time as just really being a parallel support enhancement to how we are delivering care and offering patients a different way of accessing us.”
Community members who are symptomatic or considered at-risk will be able to access trained medical professionals at no cost for advice on testing and care. The chatbot can be accessed through mobile, desktop, and tablet devices. It can be used on Firefox, Google Chrome, and mobile browsers, but it does not work on Internet Explorer.
Lotz said OSF will continuously update Clare based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization as those change.
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