Microsoft service helps healthcare organizations develop and deploy virtual assistants

Every year, tens of millions of adults in the U.S. are asked to contact Quest Diagnostics for healthcare-related services that range from routine blood work to complex genetic and molecular testing. In today’s increasingly self-service healthcare industry, details such as where to go when and what to do beforehand are typically up to patients to figure out for themselves.

“They are really learning how to drive their healthcare experience and they have a lot of questions,” said Jason O’Meara, senior director of architecture for Quest Diagnostics in Cary, North Carolina. “To find answers to their questions,” he added, “many people don’t want to browse websites anymore if they can get to their answer more directly using a bot.”

Quest Diagnostics recently built and deployed a bot using a preview of the Microsoft Healthcare Bot service that helps people who visit the Quest Diagnostics website during call center hours find testing locations, schedule appointments and get answers to non-medical questions such as whether to fast before a blood draw or when to expect results. If the bot is unable to answer a question, or the user gets frustrated, the bot will transfer the user, along with the context of the conversation, to a person who can help – all without having the user pick up the phone.