RALEIGH — Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are continuing to take a front-row seat in fighting COVID-19, with PRA Health Sciences rolling out its on AI chatbot on Friday.

Users of PRA’s Health Harmony digital platform, now integrated with Microsoft Healthcare Bot service, can use the chatbot, to ask COVID-19-related questions.

Through a series of conversational questions and interactions, the company said per its release, the COVID-19 chatbot compares users’ symptoms to U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidance and then recommends one of three available COVID-19 programs in which they should enroll.

“Collaborating closely with leading edge companies like Microsoft, PRA is uniquely positioned to deliver innovative new models of care to patients as their needs evolve, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty,” said Kent Thoelke, EVP and Chief Scientific Officer at PRA Health Sciences, in a statement.

Last month, PRA rolled out the program and the Health Harmony mobile app, with the integration of the COVID-19 Healthcare Bot service, to more than 7,000 employees in the United States. Since March, the company said thousands of users from around the globe have downloaded PRA’s Health Harmony app and enrolled in the COVID-19 Monitoring Program.

As part of the program, users can track their own COVID-19 symptoms and educate themselves about the disease. The COVID-19 Monitoring Program – available commercially to employers, payers, providers and health systems – offers three levels of support: The educational program, which provides vital sign tracking, prevention techniques and mental health support for those who are asymptomatic; the quarantine program, which delivers insights on what to watch for, addresses feelings of fear and isolation, and connects with a healthcare professional for those who have been exposed to COVID-19; and the in-depth monitoring program, which addresses symptom management, frequent monitoring by a healthcare professional and care coordination for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and who are still at home.

“Healthcare and clinical research should be easily accessible to all people and tailored to fit their unique needs,” said Jean Gabarra, General Manager, Health AI at Microsoft, in a statement. “When technology like Microsoft’s COVID-19 Healthcare Bot and a user-friendly interface like the Health Harmony app can be combined with the insights and expertise of a global healthcare intelligence partner like PRA, patients’ health and wellbeing will benefit tremendously.”

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