IBM partner Meridian IT has helped develop a Watson-based ‘virtual assistant' for NHS Wales.
‘CERi' is designed to communicate with patients, healthcare workers and the general public - and answer questions about COVID - using IBM Watson's natural language processing technology to communicate.
We have today launched #AskCeri - a virtual chatbot designed to provide our CTM patients, staff and communities with answers to any COVID-19 queries using trusted sources of information. https://t.co/pb5ejTMGrg @IBM_UK_news @CTM_Innovation #healthtech #NHS #AI #OurCTM pic.twitter.com/A64CAXJYLO— Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB (@CwmTafMorgannwg) August 5, 2020
According to Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board - which acted as a vehicle for the project - the ‘chatbot' will help relieve the strain on NHS call centres.
As part of the project, Meridian IT - an IBM Platinum Business Partner that ranked 188th in last year's CRN VAR 350 - worked with the organisation to develop the capability of the virtual agent. This included expanding the question base used by the tool, integrating it into the Welsh Ambulance Services Symptom tracker, and integrating its Welsh language translation and user interface.
CERi is designed to provide rapid and consistent answers in a conversational tone to common questions ranging from how to isolate safely and effectively, to how to disinfect your home.
Using AI and advanced natural language processing capabilities, the chatbot is designed to learn and evolve through use and user feedback.
Chatbots have come to the fore during the pandemic, with IBM itself having already rolled out an "Ask Maisie" virtual assistant for London's Royal Marsden Hospital.
"Innovation is not just limited to the clinical environment; it is also about how the NHS and the health and care system connect with people," said Andreas Haimboeck-Tichy, director, Healthcare and Life Sciences, IBM UK & Ireland.
"This is a great example of how technology can be used to empower the citizens."
Dr Phil Webb, head of Value Based Healthcare at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, said CERi had already recorded over 400 chat episodes in one day.
"Using AI and advanced natural language processing capabilities, CERi has been designed to continuously evolve and learn through use and user feedback," he said.
"In particular we have tried to have a particular focus on the language and way her dialogue shows empathy, caring and understanding. Welsh people speak from their hearts and making sure CERi shows empathy and understanding is critical to us."
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