The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a COVID-19 assessment bot that can quickly assess the symptoms and risk factors for people worried about infection, provide information and suggest a next course of action such as contacting a medical provider or, for those who do not need in-person medical care, managing the illness safely at home.

The assessment bot utilizes Microsoft's Healthcare Bot service powered by Microsoft Azure to help organizations on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response to help screen patients for potential infection and care. The bot will initially be available on the CDC website.

In particular, the need to screen patients with any number of cold or flu-like symptoms — to determine who has high enough risk factors to need access to limited medical resources and which people may more safely care for themselves at home — is a bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis, says Microsoft. 

Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help the CDC and other frontline organizations to help to respond to these inquiries, freeing up doctors, nurses, administrators and other healthcare professionals to provide critical care to those who need it. According to Microsoft, the bot is a scalable Azure-based public cloud service that allows organizations to build and deploy an AI-powered bot for websites or applications that can offer patients or the general public personalized access to health-related information through a natural conversation experience. In addition, the service customized to suit an organization’s own scenarios and protocols.