The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention introduced a bot over the weekend to help people make decisions about what to do if they have potential symptoms of COVID-19. Called Clara, the “coronavirus self-checker” was created in partnership with CDC Foundation and Microsoft Azure’s Healthcare Bot service.
While COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, Clara is intended for use by people currently in the United States. According to the CDC, as of March 22, there were more than 15,200 cases in the United States and 200 deaths.
In a statement, Microsoft said screening patients who have cold or flu-like symptoms to determine who needs “access to limited medical resources” creates a “bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis.” Its Healthcare Bot uses AI and is intended to help the CDC answer more queries, enabling medical professionals to look after patients who need critical care, the company said.
Clara, however, is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment purposes. The questions walk users through symptoms and then gives recommendations if they need medical care.
In its statement, Microsoft said that customized versions of its Healthcare Bot, across all providers who use it, are now “fielding more than 1 million messages per day from members of the public who are concerned about COVID-19 infections—a number we expect to escalate quickly to meet growing needs.”