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IT & Digital
6 min read
Aaron Bours

Why Hyro Beat Out 4,400 Other Startups to Win the Microsoft Partner of the Year Award

I should start this blog post by stating for the record that we never intended to win an award for the work we do. 

Not to diminish in any way from how thrilled and honored we are to receive the Microsoft for Startups Partner of the Year Award but to establish that our only intention was first and foremost to help our healthcare clients, partners, and friends overcome an unprecedented challenge. 

If nothing else, this award signals that the Adaptive Communications revolution we're spearheading is resonating with industry standard-bearers such as Microsoft. 

Responding to a Global Health Crisis

In 2020, digital transformation came by force. Health systems that had previously lagged in enhancing the digital experience for their patients, as well as optimizing their own digital channels for revenue-driving and cost-saving purposes, were suddenly bombarded by unforeseen challenges that required instant adaptability. 

Care teams across the nation buckled under the strain of delivering answers, information, and services to their anxious patient panels. Live support centers experienced dramatic spikes in call volumes from patients' jamming phone lines or arriving unannounced at clinics that were over capacitated with COVID-19 cases. 

As the magnitude of the crisis became apparent, we quickly recognized that we have the technology in place to create a tool that will act as a digital front door, deflecting, redirecting, and funneling this traffic in a way that would alleviate the pressure on healthcare systems. 

Here’s what our CEO Israel said back in March 2020, reflecting a sentiment that was shared by the entire company:

“Our clients, partners and friends are in healthcare, which, regardless of department, is a sector that is completely overwhelmed at the moment; the least we can do is support them with what we have in our own arsenal, which is conversational AI. That's why we've made our COVID-19 assistant completely free, aimed at helping with containment and diagnosis. Automating some of these first-line digital touchpoints will hopefully relieve the burden on healthcare support centers and allow resources to be allocated where they're needed most. In the end it's as simple as good karma, and we know that this will only strengthen our bond with healthcare professionals now and in the future." - Israel Krush, CEO, Hyro

Twelve days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, we released and offered our COVID-19 Virtual Assistant for free to any healthcare organization in need. 

Announcing Hyro’s complimentary COVID-19 Virtual Assistant, March 19th, 2020
Announcing Hyro’s complimentary COVID-19 Virtual Assistant, March 19th, 2020

Hyro's COVID-19 Virtual Assistant was designed to clear up much of the misunderstanding surrounding the coronavirus and to alleviate stress on overloaded healthcare professionals and support centers while providing actionable information for the public as well as performing symptoms triaging. 

Our COVID-19 virtual assistants have served over 4,000,000 patients during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and were adopted by leaders in the health community such as: 

  • Novant Health
  •  Weill Cornell Medicine
  •  Montefiore Medical Center
  •  Mercy Health
  •  SCL Health
  •  St. Elizabeth Healthcare
  •  Sheppard Pratt Health System
  •  University Hospital
  •  Austin Regional Clinic
  •  University of Rochester Medical Center Columbia University Irvine Medical Center 
  • And More 

Rigid chatbots and voice assistants running on intent-based flows constantly break and are difficult to teach and scale—a problem that many health providers ran into while attempting to level up their preexisting solutions to deal with a complicated and nebulous new virus. With our adaptive advantage, we helped stand up conversational technologies surrounding COVID-19 within 48 hours that are easy to maintain and simple to scale —conserving vital resources while generating better conversations, more goals completed, and patient insights. 

"We had a solution on our website in less than 48 hours. During the first week of deployment, we were already witnessing hundreds of daily conversations with the COVID-19 virtual assistant and have also been able to direct users to other key areas on our site..." - Adrin Mammen, AVP & Patient Access Transformation Officer, Montefiore Health System 

Healthcare IT covering Montefiore Health System’s deployment of Hyro’s COVID-19 Virtual Assistant, April 10th, 2020
Healthcare IT covering Montefiore Health System’s deployment of Hyro’s COVID-19 Virtual Assistant, April 10th, 2020

Adapting to Our Customers' Needs

As the situation continued to develop, so did our clients' needs.

As patients began searching for antibody testing, drive-thru check-up facilities, and other burgeoning COVID-19 related topics, our adaptive virtual assistants were always one step ahead—scraping and ingesting the most up-to-date information from certified sources such as the CDC and the healthcare provider's websites. 

[Report: Conversational AI for COVID-19: Insights from Hyro's Virtual Assistants Across US Healthcare Systems]

Then came the vaccine, bringing with it a slew of new and complex challenges, which we responded to in warp speed.

On the heels of the FDA's emergency use authorization (EUA) of Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine, we released VAXA, an AI-powered Vaccine Access Solution. VAXA was designed explicitly for healthcare systems to offload and deflect the expected burden on their live agents due to a projected 250-500% call volume increase to their contact centers and streamline their first-wave immunization plan. VAXA was built to support multiple inbound (patient-led) and outbound (provider-led) conversational flows surrounding impending COVID-19 vaccinations, including eligibility, safety, availability, and outcomes.

The Wall Street Journal covering Novant Health’s deployment of Hyro’s VAXA, January, 5th, 2021
The Wall Street Journal covering Novant Health’s deployment of Hyro’s VAXA, January, 5th, 2021

The Microsoft Effect

The team from the Microsoft Partner Network was invaluable in supporting our efforts to arm health systems with the free virtual assistant. Essentially, Microsoft Azure powers our omnichannel solutions, and we're proud to partner with an organization that puts healthcare first in 2020 and continues to do so as part of a global effort to vaccinate. 

Our overall growth in the healthcare sector has strengthened the use of Azure for both Hyro and some of our clients, and we plan to continue to engage with those health systems that are active clients of Microsoft's cloud technologies alongside the Microsoft Partner Network. 

Beyond healthcare, Hyro's Adaptive Communications Platform is not limited by use case, customer size, or channel, as its clients span industries including real estate, government, retail, and more. We look forward to working alongside our Microsoft partners in delivering communication solutions to all sectors that are as adaptive and dynamic as the world we live in.

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Aaron Bours
July 8, 2021
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