You’ve got lots of info in your media channels letting you generally know about the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), but if you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or questions, what should you do?
Using a rapid online screening tool could help alleviate your concerns. You’ll find one at Marshfield Clinic Health System’s website – marshfieldclinic.org. Just click, provide some info, then learn more about symptoms you think you may have.
What’s this about?
Online screening tools, in the form of chatbots, are computer programs that allow communication between a human and a machine through messages or voice command. They work independently from a human operator. Many health systems make use of this Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.
This screening tool on the Health System’s website will take you through a series of questions and help you decide next steps. That’s whether you should be concerned about your health before you even reach out to your health care provider or that you are doing OK.
“Technology has been helping patients communicate with their providers and the Health System for some time,” said John Welch, director of Strategic Design, Customer Experience at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “We’re excited about this latest tool to enhance communication with patients, especially at this time with COVID-19.”
The Health System has used technology to provide ways for patients to reach out, from online portals, like MyMarshfieldClinic, in which patients can message health care providers directly; messaging via text or email, to receive appointment reminders; appointments provided by telehealth technology; and more general channels like telephone conversations.
“The beauty of this chat-based screening tool,” Welch said, “is you can learn about your COVID-19 risk before considering next steps. It can give you peace of mind, that your symptoms are not related, or next steps if need be.”
This tool also helps the Health System manage potentially increasing numbers of patients and to direct them to appropriate resources.
Screening protocol follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and uses risk factors to slot screening tool users into one of 64 different screening scenarios based on responses to questions. At the end of the screening, the appropriate advice or suggestion is presented to the patient based on responses.
Screening helps provide support
The screening tool, however, does not replace a health care provider. It does not provide a medical diagnosis, medical advice or treatment options. A medical professional must diagnose any illness. But the technology helps support the health care system.
“It’s meant to help you understand symptoms, risk and navigate to the most appropriate care,” Welch said.
If you choose to use the screening tool, you’ll be asked 10-15 questions covering risk factors, again based on CDC and WHO guidelines. The entire process takes about 2-3 minutes. It does not ask for patient health information (PHI) that would personally identify you. In case you do enter details considered PHI they will be protected since the screening tool is compliant with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws.
Another helpful source
Also, another resource to consider is the Health System’s patient COVID-19 Helpline at 877-998-0880. This line is open 24/7.