SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare has developed a free online tool to prescreen symptoms for COVID-19; her name is Scout.
More than 80,000 people have utilized the tool since it launched a week ago. Intermountain Healthcare’s Susan Tew, assistant vice president of consumer experience, said this is a quick and easy way for someone to either calm their fears, or get the medical attention they need.
Scout is an artificial intelligence chat robot and helps determine the best care for someone at risk of the virus, by answering a series of yes-or-no questions.
Tew said screening people at home keeps everyone safe, by not introducing unnecessary exposure to them or healthcare providers. "So that we're not introducing risk to those that are trying to care for them or for others in the community," she explained.
Scout also provides clarity for those wondering if they have COVID-19. "They've got a recommendation for what they should do next and we hope that's calming as well as informational," Tew said.
The bot is accessible on Intermountain Healthcare’s website from either a computer or mobile device.
She asks questions such as: Have you recently traveled to an area of high-risk for COVID-19? Do you have a cough? Have you had a fever recently? Are you feeling mild to moderate shortness of breath? Are you experiencing symptoms that feel like a life-threatening medical emergency? How old are you?
Depending on the individual’s responses, they will either be asked to stay at home, call the COVID-19 call center, call 911, or go immediately to the emergency room.
"If we see that you have some symptoms, we actually want to err on the side of caution and get you in front of those nurses, our APPs (advanced practice providers), as well as our physicians who are manning our COVID call center," Tew said. "They're able to do an assessment by phone and based upon what they're hearing from you, then they're going to tell you what you need to do next."
If a doctor thinks an individual showing symptoms needs a test, they will be sent to one of Intermountain Healthcare’s 22 curbside drive-thru locations throughout the state.
Tew said the bot is updated daily based on recommendations from the CDC, WHO and state health officials.
"And as things change with this disease, because it is very fast-paced, we're able to update our symptom checker to reflect that," Tew said, including different symptoms presenting in the disease.
Intermountain reports about half of those using the symptom checker had no risk or very low risk. One-third of users were recommended to the COVID-19 hotline or a telehealth visit for further screening, 9% were asked to self-quarantine, 6% were directed to the emergency department, and 1% were asked to call 911.
Tew said those who might be skeptical of answering questions through a bot can still call Intermountain Healthcare’s COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-5224, or talk to their health care provider.