- Between March and May 2020, Mass General Brigham implemented a system-wide COVID-19 triage chatbot, creating an entryway to care and monitoring the engagement of patients with or without COVID-19 symptoms.
Mass General Brigham
- Academic Medical Center
- Patient Care Assessment System
- Patient Portal
Team Members Involved
Intervention: The intervention, artificial intelligence and a hotline staffed by nurses, leveraged a chatbot to screen patients for COVID-19 and assess future care needs, prompting patients with questions about symptoms, contacts, and at-risk categories. The chatbot operates probability algorithms that determine whether a patient needs to be seen by a health provider and the degree of care they need.
Process: Patients are intended to access the chatbot on MGB’s website before calling the nursing hotline. The chatbot then transfers patients with suspected COVID-19 symptoms to the hotline, whereas patients not reporting symptoms receive either direction to quarantine or a set of prevention guidelines based on their answers to questions about close contact. The chatbot intervenes before patients without suspected symptoms request emergency care. At the same time, the bot prepares the system’s health facilities for the arrival of patients whose care needs can only be met by a provider.
Lessons: This intervention was successful in reaching patients suspected to be COVID-19 positive as the majority of patients who answered the chatbot’s questions reported symptoms. Further, decreases in daily calls to the nursing hotline and increased chatbot engagement over the monitoring period indicate that the intervention is triaging patients successfully. Finally, the intervention’s dropped call rate, which reached as high 60% prior to the chatbot’s implementation, has remained consistently around 20% since, suggesting the nurses hotline is coordinating care for more people in need.