In Clever Move, Orbita Releases Free COVID-19 Chatbot

As the public becomes steadily more anxious about COVID-19, healthcare providers are getting swamped with questions about the virus. They’re also struggling to screen both at-risk and symptomatic patients, a necessary step in triaging them and directing them to the appropriate level of care.

In response to this concern, healthcare voice assistant vendor Orbita has developed a COVID-19 Virtual Assistant which addresses both concerns. The Assistant comes loaded with conversationally formatted Q&A and screening content drawn from the CDC and other clinically screened content.

What makes this offering sweet for Orbita is that it leverages the company’s proprietary platform. The COVID-19 chatbot can be adapted to serve as a mobile bot, smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo, SMS and analog phones. It can also be integrated with telemedicine and visit scheduling systems already in place within the provider’s IT infrastructure. However, this can only be done if the provider uses the Orbita platform.

This is a shrewd move by the company, which is working to establish a high-profile position in this space as providers test out voice assistant strategies.  In recent times, an increasing and diverse list of healthcare industry players have begun to experiment with voice assistant technology.

One of the most recent entities to enter this market is Epic, which had planned to debut an assistant known as “Hey Epic!” at the canceled HIMSS20 show. The product, which is bundled with a range of Amazon smart speakers, is designed to support clinicians. Those who use the product can place orders, call members of a patient’s care team and create reminders.

Meanwhile, over the last year or two healthcare organizations have been experimenting with home-brewed voice-enabled projects.

For example, Vanderbilt University is developing voice-controlled virtual assistant software designed to let team members interact with its Epic EHR. Another project integrating voice assistant technology is underway at Cedars-Sinai, which is piloting the use of Alexa-powered Amazon Echo devices in patient care settings. The organization has put the devices in 100 rooms, allowing patients to communicate directly with nurses and other care team members.

Now enter Orbita, with a solution to a communication problem faced by nearly every healthcare organization. By offering timely help, the vendor is almost forcing providers to test out its technology. It’s not that providers can’t duplicate what the vendor has created, necessarily, but they are more than a little bit busy at the moment. In fact, it’s possible that this offering won’t really be fully embraced until the crisis has at least stabilized.

Eventually, it’s likely that at least the large, well-funded health systems will create something like Orbita’s COVID-19 chatbot. Until then, though, it could benefit from being in the right place at the right time if they can make this easy for hospitals and health systems to onboard quickly.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.