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Upstate introduces an online Coronavirus Assessment Tool

Upstate Medical University has introduced an online Coronavirus Assessment Tool to provide the public with answers to their questions about the coronavirus and possible symptoms.

The development of the assessment tool is a joint effort between Upstate and Microsoft.

The online assessment tool, known as a chatbot, asks users a series of questions about whether one has symptoms—such as cough, fever and shortness of breath—or had any close contact with someone who is confirmed as having COVID-19 risk.

Based on user responses, the chatbot will assess one’s risk of having COVID-19 and offer a variety of suggestions for next steps, such as calling one’s primary care physician, or contacting Upstate’s COVID-19 triage hotline for testing advice.

The assessment tool is available at https://www.upstate.edu/emergencymgt/trending/coronavirus.php

“We appreciate how quickly Microsoft mobilized its team to ready this tool for the public,” said Upstate University Hospital CEO Robert Corona, DO, MBA. “There is much anxiety from the public and understandably so during this critical time. The Coronavirus Assessment Tool, coupled with our COVID-19 triage line, can help the public get quick accurate information about their current health situation, and reassurance on next steps.”

A major benefit of the assessment tool, Corona said, is its ability to address the public’s questions without having to visit a doctor’s office or Emergency Room. “Hospitals are carefully managing capacity issues and need to be available to those who are ill and need treatment,” he said. “While users may ultimately need to be in contact with a physician, we can help them make that determination without having them show up at an office when it may not be necessary.”

Further enhancements to the assessment tool are expected to be rolled out that will allow Upstate to follow-up with those individuals who were recommended for testing using bar code technology.

The concept for the patient tracking element of the assessment tool is based on work Corona, and Sam Carello undertook during 9-11 to manage an anticipated surge of patients to be transferred to Syracuse from New York City.  The objective of the system is to triage and track patients which has now been shown by South Korea and other countries to be an important tool in managing the spread of the virus.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh praised the assessment tool. “We need every tool and strategy at our disposal to meet the unprecedented challenge of the Coronavirus, and we believe Microsoft’s digital innovation paired with SUNY Upstate Medical University’s expertise will play an important part,” he said. “The online assessment tool they have created will make it possible to assess people in our community more quickly, which will, undoubtedly, ease the burden on our health care system and save more lives. We’re proud to call them our partners.”

Upstate launched the COVID-19 triage hotline March 14 and has handled more than 3,000 calls.  Similar to the online assessment tool, callers are asked a series of questions to assess exposure to COVID-19 and are then guided on next steps for possible testing. The triage hotline number is 315-464-3979.

“Educating and caring for the community with projects such as these to address this global pandemic speaks to our mission as an academic medical center,” said Upstate’s interim president, Mantosh Dewan, MD. “I am grateful to all who have reached out to us in support of these efforts. Working together we can ensure a coordinated approach to combatting COVID-19.”