Feb 26, 2021, Innovations

Supportive face of Voice AI in the times of pandemic

Aneta Skoczewska Business Consultant

Artificial intelligence has been supporting the medical industry in automating its everyday processes for many years. Robots help physicians in communicating with patients, organizing visits, or even more and more efficient diagnosis. They’re not idle in the times of pandemic, either. How do we use voicebots in the fight against coronavirus and in which fields do they work best? Here’s an overview of some medical voice solutions – invisible helpers supporting doctors on the front lines. 

Intelligent bot-informator

In March 2020, right after the outbreak of the pandemic Hyro, a medical startup building hi-tech AI solutions, created a voice assistant whose job was answering questions about coronavirus. 

In December, after the official release of vaccines against COVID-19, the company launched its second product – this time it was supposed to support the health service in passing information about vaccinations. According to reports, it was a critical moment in which the number of phone calls to hospitals increased by as much as 500%! If each of the conversations was to be held by medical staff, there would be not enough people left to take care of the ill. 

VAXA (Vaccine Access Solution) turned out to be a true godsend. A clever assistant answered phone calls, responded to text messages and handled the website chat, referring to the most bothering, repeatable questions. Additionally, it booked visits, confirmed them, and called patients to ask about their health and potential side effects after the vaccination. According to Hyro, the solution helped reduce the number of calls held by hospital staff by 40%. The number of calls abandoned by people who waited too long on the line dropped by 65%.

Voicebot for tracking COVID-19 outbreaks

Another startup, Slang Labs from India, built a voice technology for tracking the coronavirus outbreakes by region. A digital platform gathers information about the newest infections and creates a heat map that can be explored by voice in English and Hindi. Voicebot informs about active and confirmed cases, the number of recovers, and places with the most infections. Although the solution hasn’t been created in cooperation with the Indian Ministry of Health, it conveys information acquired from official sources. 

Audio coronavirus tests? Why not!

Different Indian company works on a voice assistant that’ll be able to perform an initial test for the disease detection. Is it even possible? The peculiar invention based on publicly acquired and shared data is supposed to analyze a patient’s voice, breath and cough. The Vocalis Health company launched a 3-month pilot program, analyzing more than 2 thousand voice samples and distinguishing typical virus sounds. For comparison, the samples were also collected from people with a positive test result.

Each time artificial intelligence discovers the symptoms of COVID-19, a patient is provided with an additional throat swab to confirm the accuracy of diagnosis. Acquired data allow the company to estimate the effectiveness and reliability of the results provided by voicebot. The research is still ongoing – its initiators work on gathering as many voice samples as possible, including those of convalescents. A well-refined solution will help test potentially ill on a much larger scale. 

Effective redirection to emergency services on duty

Modern voice technologies supporting healthcare in the fight against the virus reached Europe, too. French scientists gave life to a voice assistant that answers potentially infected people’s phone calls and redirects them to the nearest medical facilities on duty. 

Each resident can contact the AlloCovid service and answer a questionnaire carried out by a pleasant female bot’s voice. Then, depending on the symptoms and coexisting diseases, a patient is directed to a proper professional who gives him further instructions. 

Creators wanted the solution to be friendly for people of all ages. That’s why they chose a phone call instead of an application. The system is able to answer a thousand calls at once – it’s a number difficult to achieve with the help of real people. 

Voicebot and its future in medicine – keeping our fingers on the pulse

Voice solutions are becoming an increasingly essential source of development in the medical industry and a step towards its full digitization. The more we are able to trust a bot, the less responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the overworked health service – especially in the stressful times of the pandemic. We can expect that in the future voicebots will work even more deftly, deriving from the complexity and efficiency of a human brain. For now, the implemented solutions allow us to improve the process of coping with the pandemic, and the scientists and developers don’t slow down, facing other demanding challenges that come their way.

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