Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Microsoft's Healthcare Bot service helps power CDC's COVID-19 assessment bot

Microsoft's AI chatbot for healthcare technology, which runs on Azure, is key to the CDC's COVID-19 patient-assessment bot.

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Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is continuing to step up its internal and external efforts to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus. Last week, Microsoft announced that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is using Microsoft's Healthcare chat bot service to power its own COVID-19 assessment bot. The CDC's COVID-19 bot as meant to quickly assess symptoms and risk factors and suggest a next course of action (like see a doctor or just stay home).

Microsoft's Healthcare Bot runs on Azure. Microsoft made its Healthcare Bot generally available in February 2019.

Microsoft's Healthcare Bot service began as a research project in 2017. That bot service allows users to create chat bots and AI-powered health assistants using Microsoft's service. Microsoft's Healthcare Bot service can integrate with Electronic Health Records. 

In addition to the CDC, customers using this service to build their own bots include Quest Diagnostics and Kaiser Permanente. Providence St. Joseph Health also is using a COVID-19 screening service built using Microsoft's Healthcare bot technology.

The CDC's COVID-19 assessment bot is here.

Microsoft's Healthcare bot service is meant to guide customers via a natural conversation experience. It is customizable so that it can fit in with an organization's own scenarios and protocols.

In addition to providing the underlying bot service, Microsoft also is making available to customers several COVID-19 response templates which they can modify. These include a COVID-19 risk assessment based on CDC guidelines; COVID-19 clinical triage based on CDC protocols; COVID-19 answers to frequently asked questions; and COVID-19 worldwide metrics.

Microsoft's Bing team launched last week its own COVID-19 tracker.