Conversational interfaces like chatbots and voice apps are in the frontline of the global coronavirus response. In another post of my blog I spoke about maps, dashboards and APIs used in the fight agains coronavirus. Today I want to talk about the use of chatbots in the coronavirus response.
I have advocated for chatbots in healthcare since I started my project bots4health in 2016. 4 years and a pandemic later global health institutions and national ministries of health have all started working on their own conversational interfaces to bring public health information to citizens and to alleviate the workload of emergency lines.
Alexa and Google Assistant are banning voice apps related to coronavirus, but a few institutions are promoting their own medical backed, official solutions. Chatbots, with the proper design, information sources and training, can be of great use in different tasks:
- Giving information: definitions, prevention, current figures…
- Fake news or hoaxes identification and mitigation.
- Self-assessment, screening and triage for people with symptoms.
- Notifications of suspects for dispatch of ambulances or domestic medical care.
- Pharmacovigilance for confirmed cases treated at home with traditional treatments or in the context of medical trials.
- Quarantine checks, including symptoms assessment, geolocation or contact reports.
- Transmission and explanation of lab results.
- Family finder.
Below is a list of different chatbot projects that have implemented some of these use cases, and here you can find an interesting reflection about chatbots applied in the coronavirus response by the people at Xatkit. If you want to add your project to the list, leave a comment or reach out to me through the contact form and I will update this publication.
The World Health Organization has a WhatsApp chatbot that can provide advice and information about COVID19. It had conversations with over 100 million people during the first 3 days. It is available in English, Arabic, French, Spanish and over 20 other languages. There are different phone numbers for each language.
The UCSF Health and Northwell Health are using a chatbot created by Conversahealth that can help with screening and triage, quarantine checks or lab results followup.
The CDC chatbot is made based on the Microsoft Healthcare bot framework and can help with self-assessments, tele-health and consult scheduling.
Covidbot is a mexican chatbot that fights misinformation about the disease by answering questions about myths and hoaxes.
Carinabot, created by the Spanish 1millionbots, answers questions about coronavirus from various Spanish and Latinamerican websites of public institutions or univerisities.
Eva, at bots4health, answers questions about coronavirus and other health topics in English or Spanish.