AN online symptom checker to help people determine whether they may have contracted Coronavirus has had a million visits since its creation.
The Welsh Ambulance Service’s Covid-19 Symptom Checker, which went live at the start of March, was designed not only to signpost users to the most appropriate care, but also to ease the pressure on its 111 service.
To supplement the self-assessment tool on the NHS 111 Wales website, the corresponding NHS 111 Wales Facebook page has this week launched a ‘ChatBot’ to enable the public to check their symptoms via the social media platform too.
Andy Haywood, the Trust’s Director of Digital Services, said: “The Covid-19 Symptom Checker is a fantastic new tool when it comes to managing demand through the pandemic.
“It has answered over a million questions without the need for a call to our busy control rooms, it has helped people understand what to do if they have symptoms of Coronavirus, whether that’s self-isolation and self-care, a call to their GP or at worst, a call to 111 or 999.
“The ChatBot facility on the Facebook page will act as a second platform for the symptom checker, which makes it more accessible and can direct people to the advice and information they need even quicker.
“The ChatBot will also be available on the NHS 111 Wales website.”
The Trust enlisted the support of Senseforth.AI and FinTech Wales to build and implement the ChatBot, both of whom offered their services for free.
Work has been underway for several weeks get the ChatBot facility up and running on the NHS 111 Wales Facebook page, and in the Welsh language too.
Gavin Powell, General Secretary of FinTech Wales, said: “It’s been amazing to offer our services for free to help put something together that will make a real difference straight away to the Covid-19 response.
“Now this initial offering is in place, it paves the way for Senseforth.AI to offer other smart AI functionality to the chatbot service to further support and enhance the experience for the people of Wales when they engage with the 111 service.”
Cardiff Bay-based Errol Finkelstein, Managing Director of Senseforth.AI in the UK, Europe and Africa, added: “This ChatBot will guide people through the NHS Covid-19 Symptom Checker quickly and easily, whilst adhering to NHS clinical guidance.
“The ChatBot will also directly reduce the workload on call centres, and aid ambulance workers and other support staff too, helping all round.
“It is a pleasure working with NHS 111 Wales and FinTech Wales. We wish the wonderful NHS staff all the very best.”
Welsh Government has played a key role in bringing Senseforth.AI, FinTech Wales and the ambulance service together to help develop the idea.
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “This is another example of the Covid crisis fuelling innovation to ease pressure on the healthcare system and to improve the way people get information.
“This has the potential to save lives and free up resources to be used where they can make the biggest difference.
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to draw on the expertise of our thriving FinTech ecosystem, and I’m keen to see how we can use this example to encourage smarter use of digital technologies across all our public services.”
Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, added: “I want to applaud business across Wales who are using their expertise and skills to support our NHS and care sector.
“Businesses like Senseforth.AI and FinTech Wales have risen to the challenge and diversified in order to help protect the NHS and save lives.”