Self-screening chat bot launches to aid healthcare sector

The tool is set to help healthcare professionals, including optical practices, to pre-screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms ahead of appointments

A new digital tool has been launched to help the healthcare sector screen patients before attending an appointment, with the creators suggesting optical practices will benefit from the “assurance that patients and visitors are symptom-free.”

Launched by communication provider, Moneypenny, the self-screening bot can help to check that patients are symptom-free before attending appointments through a set list of questions. These questions can be used to ascertain if anyone is self-isolating, has any COVID-19 symptoms, has come into contact with anyone who has or is suspected of having the virus, or if they feel unwell.

Should a user select ‘yes’ to any of the four questions, they will be shown a customisable message to say that the appointment cannot take place at this time, and/or that they need to reschedule. There is also the option to have the user transferred to a real-time chat conversation.

“Practices will benefit greatly from the extra peace of mind and assurance that patients and visitors are symptom-free before they attend appointments and consultations,” a spokesperson for the company told OT.

The bot can be integrated into an online booking system or hosted on a brand-customised page. Users access full analytics through an individual portal and receive a real-time response email for every completed questionnaire. All user responses are sent via email to the practice immediately and regardless of what answers are given.

Joanna Swash, chief executive officer of Moneypenny, suggested that using the tool can provide healthcare professionals and patients with “extra reassurance” that people have been screened for symptoms, adding that they can “rest assured that they’ve done as much as possible to protect one another.”

Ms Swash added: “This is not a substitute for observing social distancing and extra hand hygiene, but an extra layer of safety and due diligence to help the healthcare sector operate safely. With an incredibly simple set up that takes less than 24 hours and no long-term contracts, we expect Screening Bot to be a very welcome tool.”

Initially the product was launched to the company’s current clients, including many in the optometry sector, before it was made available to the wider market.
The company suggests the tool can enable practices to ask visitors to agree to certain protocols prior to their appointment, such as hand washing on arrival or wearing a face mask.

“Importantly, the system captures people’s contact details securely and efficiently, which is an important part of supporting the Government’s national track and trace programme,” the spokesperson added.