Conversational AI for COVID-19: Insights from Hyro’s Virtual Assistants Across US Healthcare Systems
On March 19th, 2020 — on the heels of the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declaring the coronavirus a worldwide pandemic — we launched our free COVID-19 Virtual Assistant for healthcare systems.
We understood quickly, as a company, that our friends, clients and partners in healthcare would need an immediate solution for scaling digital health services surrounding COVID-19. We asked ourselves at Hyro, “how fast can we stand up a solution?” And so, we rallied together to tailor our conversational AI platform for COVID-19 in under 72 hours, aiming to clear up much of the misunderstanding surrounding the virus while alleviating the strain on overloaded healthcare professionals and support centers.
At the time of writing, I’m humbled to report that our COVID-19 Virtual Assistant has been deployed by seventeen of the leading healthcare organizations in the U.S. as well as one in Uganda. It has been a privilege to be able to assist medical professionals on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19, especially in some of the hardest-hit states in America, among them New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Beyond its intended purposes, this initiative has fostered deeper, stronger relationships between our team and those of the overwhelmed health systems that needed a solution like ours, and has further validated our mission to help transform healthcare for the better.
Before diving into the report, let’s first understand how the product functioned to help patients and healthcare organizations alike. The COVID-19 Virtual Assistant is an AI-powered voice & text conversational platform which equips patients with actionable information surrounding the novel coronavirus. The information provided by the COVID-19 Virtual Assistant is based on certified resources and freely available information developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and customized content provided by the providers we worked with. There are a few main services surrounding COVID-19 that we were able to automate with conversational AI:
- Answer natural language FAQs regarding COVID-19 and hospital policies, such as “what are the symptoms of coronavirus”, “How can I protect myself?”,“How is the virus transmitted”? Etc.
- Risk assessment & screening tool for COVID-19, based on CDC guidelines with actionable next steps
- Navigate patients to COVID-19 related website content
- Symptoms triaging for COVID-19
The deployment of these use cases is instant, and all of the information is continuously updated on a daily basis. Here’s a dual-shot of what that looks like for patients using the virtual assistant and healthcare providers that can monitor that engagement:
An additional and intrinsic value of the COVID-19 Virtual Assistant is the automatically-collected conversational insights which afford healthcare professionals pivotal, accurate visibility into their patients’ current needs and concerns.
Our conversational intelligence, featured in the Conversational AI for COVID-19 Report, has captured a clear picture of the effects of COVID-19 on healthcare providers and their patients, effectively operating as a barometer for patient behavior during the greatest public health crisis in over a century.
For example, we’ve discovered that there is a ballooning interest in antibody testing. Testing encompassed a majority of “other COVID-19 related issues”, at 56% of total conversations. A reflection of the pandemic’s current stage in the U.S. — where the high number of confirmed cases is now being matched with an accordingly high number of patients who have recovered or believe they have previously contracted COVID-19 and would like to check if they have developed antibodies against the disease — antibody testing featured heavily in our analysis with 28% of all testing-related conversations revolving around this topic. Patients across all sampled healthcare organizations are actively seeking information on antibody testing and how and where to get tested. Although it is not yet conclusive, research suggests that most recovered patients develop antibodies to the virus. This topic has received widespread media coverage recently and is featured frequently in the Trump administration’s briefings.
Keeping in line with our efforts to partner with healthcare organizations, we decided to publish the following 25-page report, based on the analysis of thousands of anonymized patient conversations across active COVID-19 Virtual Assistants, providing pointed insights into patient engagement with their health providers during the COVID-19 crisis*.
Download the full report (it’s free) to find out what patients are asking about COVID-19. Further insights in this report include:
- Top keywords, categories & patient queries surrounding COVID-19
- Growing interest and demand, as well as confusion, surrounding the topic of testing with 56% constituting all COVID-19 conversations
- Frequently asked patient questions as indicators of current patient anxieties
- Patients’ response to hospital policy changes and disruption of ongoing medical care
- Full segmentation of Risk Assessment reports, according to age groups, symptoms, and degree of risk
- Non-COVID-19 areas of concern — telemedicine, rescheduling appointments & billing, what other digital services are patients looking for online?
The current crisis is highlighting the crucial role played by key patient insights, in providing healthcare professionals with the tools they need to better understand their patients’ immediate priorities and pain points. As we prepare for the next stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in many ways, for the unknown, we hope the findings in this report will help illuminate the path forward.