A hand holding a cellphone

East Limburg Hospital Health Bot: a chatbot as a screening procedure

Leentje Chavatte

Leentje Chavatte

Microsoft, Data & AI and Digital Transformation

Read Time, 3 min.

Hospitals have been under a lot of pressure since the outbreak of COVID-19. In order to protect both patients and staff as best they can, and to safeguard the functioning of the hospital, the East Limburg Hospital (ZOL) in Genk, Belgium, started using the Health Bot, a chatbot on the Microsoft Azure platform, at very short notice. Thus, patients are screened even before they set foot in the hospital. The data collected can also be used to better assess a new outbreak.

When the government announced easing measures to allow normal urgent treatments to continue in hospitals, in addition to critically urgent treatments, many hospitals had real doubts as to its practical implementation. As did the ZOL in Genk, says Noëlla Pierlet, Coordinator for Clinical Data/Information Architect at the East Limburg Hospital. The infection risk in the non-COVID part of the hospital had to be kept to a minimum to protect both patients and staff, and to ensure that staff can work in a safe environment. Management asked to roll out a simple screening process, while consciously dealing with the available test material. The solution was to draw up a questionnaire for patients, which resulted in the Health Bot (a chatbot dealing specifically with the patient’s health). The questionnaire clarifies the likelihood that a patient may or may not be infected with the COVID-19 virus.

“Due to the increasing number of patients, a different approach was needed to give COVID-19 the least possible chance in the hospital.”—Noëlla Pierlet, Coordinator for Clinical Data/Information Architect, East Limburg Hospital, Genk

Noëlla Pierlet, Coordinator for Clinical Data/Information Architect at East Limburg Hospital, Genk, at the entrance to the East Limburg Hospital.

Noëlla Pierlet, Coordinator for Clinical Data/Information Architect, East Limburg Hospital, Genk

An efficient approach and valuable results

The aim of the Health Bot is to keep the risk of infection in the hospital as low as possible as it allows us to properly assess a potential new outbreak and take the necessary precautions. After all, each questionnaire is linked to a patient file, so through patient reports the hospital can determine by how many orange, yellow or green patients there are per postcode. By requesting the health status of patients, the ZOL thus obtains statistics on the population in Limburg through which new outbreaks can be detected and addressed.

This procedure ensures a safer and more pleasant environment in the hospital for both patients and nursing staff. The risk of infection is greatly reduced by not allowing the green, yellow and orange patients to cross paths. This means that patients can once again get their necessary treatments with peace of mind.

A chatbot that helps in the fight against COVID-19

How exactly does the Health Bot work? Each patient receives a text message with a link to the questionnaire. The patient answers several Corona-related questions via the chatbot, after which an algorithm determines which color code the patient will be assigned as an outcome on the questionnaire. This can be green, yellow or orange, where orange is for the ‘riskiest’ patients who need a targeted approach in consultation with the attending physician. It is necessary to check whether treatment is still appropriate in case of contamination and, if necessary, postponed for general safety.

The questionnaire can be completed in several ways. More than 70% of patients complete the questionnaire via their smartphone after receiving an SMS, or via the online patient portal. The remaining 30% are contacted by phone by a ZOL call center employee. Finally, patients only gain access to the hospital after completing the questionnaire in one format or another.

“The greatest advantage of the Health Bot is its immense user-friendliness and accessibility. After all, everyone has to fill out the questionnaire in order to gain access to the hospital.”—Noëlla Pierlet, Coordinator for Clinical Data/Information Architect, East Limburg Hospital, Genk

Cooperation at 1.5 meters

The start-up time of the Health Bot also proves that these times sometimes require extreme efficiency. Microsoft’s Health Bot is the result of a collaboration with Arinti, a 13-member Mechels company specializing in artificial intelligence that enabled five hospitals to use the chatbot in just 12 days. This impressive achievement testifies to tremendous commitment from both Arinti and the ZOL.

Free eBook: Breaking Down AI - 10 Real Applications in Healthcare

Demystify artificial intelligence (AI) and learn how it can help solve healthcare challenges in this interactive e-book.

Education

Finance & Insurance

Government

  • a woman sitting on a sidewalk

    How to digitally transform citizen services

    “Having a website, call centre and information desk isn’t enough. Citizen services need to be streamlined to empower citizens and government employees alike.” The eBook ‘The digital transformation of citizen services’ is honest in its appraisal of the urgent challenge facing governments worldwide, whose citizens expect their digital experiences to match the quality of those […]

  • a display in a building

    How public health and social services can deliver better care with secure digital solutions

    The mission of Public Health and Social Services organisations is to provide the right services to the right citizens at the right time. But how can that be achieved against a backdrop of increasing regulation, growing demand for services and shrinking budgets? That’s the challenge that the IDC white paper ‘Transforming Public Health and Social […]

Healthcare

Manufacturing

  • Man with a tattoo pointing at a tablet in a factory

    2020 has shown manufacturers the true value of digital transformation

    At the start of 2020, there were all manner of manufacturing topics to be discussed. And then suddenly, there was only one. It would be difficult to overstate the impact of Covid-19’s disruption on manufacturers. Almost across the board, this industry has seen supply chains breaking, cash ceasing to flow and production lines grinding to […]

  • Two field workers fixing airplane turbines

    IoT connected field service has tapped into a new economy of satisfaction

    There’s something to be said for how modern convenience has altered customer expectations globally. As the world rapidly moves towards digitisation, traditional values―such as price and product loyalty―are cast aside in favour of curated service experiences. In the field service industry, this has become an area of concern for continuous customer satisfaction and business growth. […]

Retail

  • a person standing in a room

    Delivering seamless commerce with a complete omnichannel solution

    With retail moving beyond a transactional model, customers are looking for retail experiences that meet or exceed their growing expectations. Retailers are tasked with better understanding customer needs and preferences in order to create personalized and friction-free shopping experiences. This is only possible by removing the barriers between traditionally isolated channels, like e-commerce and physical […]

  • Big data boosts business for beverage company

    Big data boosts business for beverage company

    Contemplate, if you will, the multiple choices available every time you want something to drink. Water? Juice? Soft drink? Do you want a single-serve can or a six-pack? Or maybe you just grab a liter bottle. The fact is, we as consumers expect a lot of options and the global non-alcoholic beverage industry delivers. Arca […]