Following a series of announcements on
Microsoft’s AI-based inventions, another preview of an
AI-powered health chatbot has been released by the technology giant. The healthcare platform is currently under a private preview to Microsoft partners, and provides a sneak peek into the future of healthcare where people are increasingly empowered by improved access to medical information on their smartphones.
The new chatbot project is driven by the company’s Healthcare NeXT initiative, and is also part of a partnership with
Aurora Health Care, thus the name
“Aurora Digital Concierge”. By providing the public with reliable medical data right at their fingertips, the current healthcare system could be substantially improved by increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
To streamline the new health bot experience, the technology of the Aurora Digital Concierge is now accessible to all healthcare partners of Microsoft. Some medical providers in the states are already either using or evaluating the healthbot-related apps, although the project is currently still in the developmental stage. These healthcare partners include Premera Blue Cross and the health care delivery network UPMC.
According to the Aurora Health Care Vice President of Digital Experience,
Jamey Shiels, the company is dedicated towards providing a seamless experience for users, which the new health bot system effectively provides due to the successful AI technology behind the system.
The digital healthcare service of the health bot provides the opportunity for users who feel unwell to obtain immediate information regarding common ailments based on the symptoms they are experiencing at the time. This is more efficient than the conventional method of browsing through the internet or contacting a medical facility. Instead, patients can have a text conversation with the health bot regarding their current conditions. This healthcare experience also allows for the inputting of natural language to increase accessibility for those who are new to the system.
Based on some answers which the app will prompt the user to supply, the healthcare chatbot will provide information on the seriousness of the user’s current condition, and advise the level of care required based on the app's best possible judgement. Medical appointments can also be scheduled from within the app, with additional advice provided including the appropriate type of doctor to see, and how urgently to visit one.
The objectives of the health bot service are not only to benefit patients, but also to extend the benefited parties to encompass healthcare providers and networks as well. Insurers can also apply the chatbots to allow policy holders to access their insurance plans, and follow the status of a current claim.
However, though the health bot project demonstrates the impressive capabilities of AI-powered technology, it does not focus on making it accepted and popular among consumers. According to a recent study, only
12% of consumers would opt to use a health bot due to their inevitable scepticism towards AI-based technologies, especially during these relatively early stages of the technology.
Nevertheless, by infusing AI technology into their developments, Microsoft has achieved quite an impressive track record in the AI race to date, with a plethora of future creations in the pipeline.
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