Chatbots for the win! Microsoft is making some big moves in health. The company has officially launched its healthcare bot service in the Azure Marketplace.
Redmond is not new to all this.
The Seattle-based company has been experimenting with healthcare chatbots since 2017. It unveiled its Health Bot, a SaaS offering within Azure. The platform enabled care providers to deploy, text, voice and touch experiences that were capable of replying to questions with natural language.
It was also designed to integrate seamlessly with Skype, Cortana, Slack, Facebook, and SMS.
From its humble beginning as a hackathon project, Microsoft commercialized and launched it in private preview for select partners like UPMC, Aurora Health Care and Premera Blue Cross.
Now, almost three years after its creation, the bot is solution is available in the Azure Marketplace.
As a Healthcare Bot service.
At its core, this is a Dialogflow-inspired bot design suite tailor-made for healthcare scenarios. Basically, allowing developers to build conversational flows with that check symptoms with protocol databases and surface information about previous conditions, health plan benefits and eligibility, as well as costs.
Bots built with this service can also handle appointment scheduling or look up doctors within driving distance.
In terms of technology, these bots benefit from the NLP technology available on the Azure platform. That is to say, language models that can handle interruptions, topic changes, human errors and balance them with complex medical questions.
The company hopes that with the Healthcare Bot Service, providers, payers, insurers and pharmaceutical companies can orchestrate tasks from a centralized and extensible portal.
Microsoft states that in the coming weeks, partners will be launching bots built for scenarios like preparing for a doctor appointment or tests, answering pregnancy questions and more.
While virtual assistants will never replace medical professional, the company is hopeful that Healthcare Bot chatbots will have a measurable real-world impact in the industry.