AI Powered Custom COVID 19 Healthcare Bot

The CDC COVID19 Healthcare bot 

The CDC's COVID-19 bot is meant to quickly assess symptoms and risk factors and suggest a next course of action (like see a doctor or just stay home). Microsoft's Healthcare Bot runs on Azure and was first made publicly available in February 2019.

The bot service originally  began as a research project in 2017. That bot service allows users to create chat bots and AI-powered health assistants using Microsoft's service. 

The Healthcare Bot service can integrate with Electronic Health Records. In addition to the CDC, customers using this service to build their own bots include Quest Diagnostics and Kaiser Permanente. Providence St. Joseph Health also is using a COVID-19 screening service built using Microsoft's Healthcare bot technology.

Microsoft's AI powered Healthcare bot service is meant to guide customers via a natural conversation experience. It is customizable so that it can fit in with an organization's own scenarios and protocols.

In addition to the underlying bot service, several customizable COVID-19 response templates have also been made available. These include a COVID-19 risk assessment based on CDC guidelines; COVID-19 clinical triage based on CDC protocols; COVID-19 answers to frequently asked questions; and COVID-19 worldwide metrics.

An Overview of the Microsoft Healthcare Bot

Conversational AI for Healthcare: A cloud service that empowers healthcare organizations to build and deploy, AI-powered virtual health assistants and chatbots that can be used to enhance their processes, self-service, and cost reduction efforts.

Built-in healthcare intelligence: The Healthcare Bot comes with built-in healthcare AI services, including a symptom checker and medical content from known industry resources, and language understanding models that are tuned to understand medical and clinical terminology.

Customizable: You will receive your own white-labeled bot instance that can be embedded within your app or website. You can customize the built-in functionality and extend to introduce your own business flows through simple and intuitive visual editing tools.

Compliance: The service aligns to industry and globally recognized security and compliance standards such as ISO 27001, 27018, and CSA Gold and GDPR and provides tools that help our partners create HIPAA compliant solutions. 

Out-of-the-box AI and world knowledge capabilities: While each health bot instance is highly customizable and extensible, the Health Bot Service is built with a wide range of out-of-the-box features. 
  • The Health Bot Service leverages information from respected healthcare industry data sources to generate accurate and relevant responses. 
  • The Health Bot Service enables meaningful conversations for patients with an interactive symptom checker and uses medical content databases to answer health questions. 
  • Conversational intelligence supports layperson natural language conversations to flow and adapt dynamically as each health bot instance learns from previous interactions. The service intelligence is powered by Microsoft Cognitive Services and credible world knowledge.

Configurable and extensible:

The Health Bot Service provides endless flexibility of use to Microsoft partners:
  • Unique scenarios can be authored by partners for their health bot instances to extend the baseline scenarios and support their own flows.
  • The health bot instance's behavior can be configured to match the partner's use cases, processes, and scenarios.
  • The health bot instance can easily be connected to partners' information systems---for example, systems that manage EMR, health information, and customer information.
  • The health bot instance can be easily integrated into other systems such as web sites, chat channels, and digital personal assistants.
Security and Privacy: The information handled by each instance of the Health Bot Service is privacy protected to HIPAA standards and secured to the highest standards for privacy and security by Microsoft. 

Built on top of Microsoft Azure technology, the Azure architecture powers the Health Bot Service's ability to scale with resilience, while maintaining the highest standards of privacy and security.

Easy to manage: Each health bot instance is easily managed and monitored by Microsoft partners via the Health Bot Service's management portal and management API. The management portal provides the ability to define the health bot instance's behavior in fine detail and to monitor usage with built-in reports. Management API allows the partner to embed the health bot instance and to securely exchange data and information.

Common Use-case scenarios:

The Health Bot Service contains built-in scenarios. Additional scenarios may be authored through the Scenario Editor.

The built-in scenarios include the following:

  • Triage/symptom checker, powered by built-in medical protocols: The end user describes a symptom to the health bot instance and the bot helps the user to understand it and suggests how to react; for example, "I have a headache."
  • General information about conditions, symptoms, causes, complications, and more: Loaded with medical content, the health bot instance can provide information about medical conditions, symptoms, causes, and complications; for example, "information about diabetes," "what are the causes of malaria," "tell me about the complications of arthritis."
  • Find doctor type: The health bot instance can recommend the appropriate type of doctor to treat an illness; for example, "What type of doctor treats diabetes?"
Examples of scenarios that are typically built by customers as extensions using the scenario authoring elements include the following:

  • Health plan inquiries: Your health bot instance can be customized to access information about health plan details, such as pricing and benefits.
  • Finding providers: Your health bot instance can allow customers to search for doctors by specialty, in-network status, and other specifications.
  • Scheduling appointments: Your health bot instance can be designed to allow your customers to schedule appointments easily and securely.

Deploying your Custom COVID-19 Healthcare Bot 

Public healthcare providers on the frontline of COVID-19 response have had to act quickly to support the sudden spike in inquiries from patients and constituents looking to get answers to a common set of requests such as, 
  • Up-to-date outbreak information, 
  • Symptoms 
  • Risk factors for people worried about infection
  • Suggest a next course of action. 

Many of these providers have expressed concerns with being able to support the volumes of inquiries, and consequently have been using the Microsoft Healthcare Bot to help provide critical information to their patients.

In a nutshell Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot  is a scalable Azure-based SaaS solution that empowers Microsoft customers and partners to build and deploy compliant, AI-powered health agents, allowing them to offer their users intelligent, personalized access to health-related information and interactions through a natural conversation experience. 

It is one solution that uses AI to help the CDC and other frontline organizations to provide help to those who need it.

The Healthcare Bot can easily be customized to suit an organizations scenarios and protocols. 

To assist in the rapid deployment of COVID-19 specific bots Microsoft has made available a set of COVID-19 templates that customers can use and modify:

  • COVID-19 Risk Assessment
  • COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
  • COVID-19 Worldwide metrics
  • COVID-19 Clinical Triage

To help you deploy your COVID-19 healthcare bot, Microsoft has created a Reference architecture, deployment template.

Reference Architecture

The reference architecture provides guidance on a High Availability deployment of the Healthcare Bot and associated Azure services across 2 regions.

Note: The architecture can also be deployed in a single region, if you choose to deploy in a single region it is recommended that you model and estimate your peak traffic expectations to ensure that a single region deployment is appropriate for your situation.

Alternate Schematic Representation with Workflow:


  • Unless otherwise noted explicitly, the first region listed in the locations parameter (array) will represent the primary region and the second will denote the secondary region.
  • The ARM template parameter name has to be unique for each Health Bot deployment. Use an alpha numberic value for this name parameter. All Azure resources deployed by the ARM template will have names prefixed with this deployment name.
  • Azure Traffic Manager is used to shift the Web Chat Client and QnA Maker API traffic across the individual Azure App Service instances deployed in the two regions. The end user (customer) is responsible for configuring the respective traffic routing algorithm in the Traffic Manager to ensure the traffic is split evenly between the App Service instances as per their requirements.

Deployment Template

To assist in deploying the reference architecture Microsoft has developed an ARM template for you to use. The step by step instruction to deploy and configure the reference architecture can be found here: Deploy Microsoft Health Bot Reference Architecture

To then set up your Health Bot – follow the instruction in the Quick Start: Setting Up Your COVID-19 Health Bot

If you are ready to deploy and would like assistance:  

  1. Contact your account team for a quick demo and/ or alignment of resources.
  2. Speak to one of our Health Bot Partners who can help you deploy and customize your own COVID-19 Health Bot.

Additional Resources: