Northwell, UCSF, UNC using chatbot and related tech to manage COVID-19 patients

Just-released coronavirus-specific chatbots are delivering test results quicker and checking in on quarantined patients.
By Bill Siwicki
01:15 PM
Northwell, UCSF, UNC using chatbot and related tech to manage COVID-19 patients

Examples of the chatbot technology in action at UCSF Health and Northwell Health.

Last month, chatbot technology vendor Conversa Health launched Coronavirus Health Chats, which expands virtual care to help people assess risk, stay safe, check symptoms and triage to local testing and care resources.

Conversa Health has rolled out a suite of COVID-19 programs developed with clinicians and CDC guidance to help hospitals and health systems manage the outbreak: COVID-19 Screener & Triage, COVID-19 Lab Results, COVID-19 QuarantineChecks, and COVID-19 Employee HealthScreener.

Conversa’s Coronavirus Health Chats chatbots leverage the company’s Virtual Health Platform. The platform enables healthcare organizations to monitor, engage and manage their patients and communities across many use cases – including chronic care, acute discharge, perioperative, oncology, OBGYN, prevention and wellness – with a frequency and at a scale that would be prohibitive using just telemedicine, telephonic or in-person interactions with clinicians, nurses and health coaches, the company contended.

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In the hot spot of New York

Three major healthcare provider organizations are using the coronavirus chatbots and other COVID-19 systems to treat patients today.

New York State hospitals are facing a crisis point as they grapple with thousands of COVID-19 cases and try to overcome critical shortages. To help hospitals across the state, Northwell CEO Michael Dowling has been appointed to oversee New York’s hospital capacity council.

The massive health system is happy with the speed and scale the chatbot technology systems have exhibited, which help the provider with its system and patient-contact center capacity, said Holly Koehler, vice president of patient access services at Northwell Health. “While we already use Conversa effectively across Northwell, we are running their Coronavirus Lab Results program to communicate test results to patients and help them manage how they interact with the system or self-manage their situation,” she said.

Northwell is testing 1,600 patients per day for coronavirus and delivering the results using Conversa’s Lab Results tool to save nurses time they would otherwise spend calling patients with results. Automating this process also serves patients better: They get their results quicker and also receive information on what to do next.

On the West Coast

Consistently ranked among the top 10 hospitals nationally, UCSF Health and its more than 24,000 employees serve the San Francisco Bay area, one of the first metro areas in the country to see the impact of COVID-19.

The chatbot technology has proven to be a helpful tool in the provider’s virtual care strategy, said Dr. Aaron Neinstein, director of clinical informatics at the UCSF Center for Digital Health Innovation.

“As coronavirus spreads, we have an immediate mandate to screen our employees daily and to ensure that any who might be infected don’t come into contact with patients,” he said. “In just a few days, Conversa enabled us to develop and deploy an Employee Health Daily Digital Screening Tool for Coronavirus that fits well into our workflow and helps ensure our patients remain safe.”

In North Carolina

UNC Health Alliance has a great need to help its community better understand the coronavirus and COVID-19’s potential symptoms, said Stephanie Turner, interim vice president of population health services.

“We also need to provide resources to patients if their condition worsens and effectively monitor them,” she added. The patient engagement chatbot technology expands UNC’s virtual care and communication to help the provider meet the needs of its isolated and quarantined patients in an empathetic and efficient way, she said.

UNC Health is using the COVID-19 QuarantineChecks system to provide daily check-ins with about 1,000 patients. This provides a connection for patients with their care team while maintaining physical isolation.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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