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Nuance’s Voice Bot to Help Walgreens’ Customers Schedule Their COVID-19 Vaccines

Walgreens and Nuance Communications, Inc. recently announced they collaborated to help Walgreens customers schedule their COVID-19 vaccine appointments with help from Nuance’s conversational AI.

AI solutions for drug making, big data, and red tape managing in the healthcare

The role of AI in healthcare has been a huge talking point in the last year, with the coronavirus pandemic only making the adoption of this technology more important than ever. 

Not only are AI and machine learning making things easier for researchers to discover new treatment solutions and new approaches to dealing with chronic illnesses and debilitating pain, but the data obtained from the healthcare system has become a business in itself. 

Global big data in the healthcare market is expected to reach $34.27 billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 22.07%. Globally, the big data analytics segment is expected to be worth more than $68.03 billion by 2024, driven largely by continued North American investments in electronic health records, practice management tools, and workforce management solutions.

AI in healthcare has significant and wide-reaching potential, covering everything from mobile coaching solutions to discovering novel treatments and going through anything and everything which can improve the healthcare system and be achieved via machine learning. 

Dealing with red tape is one of those problems since administrative and operational inefficiencies account for nearly $1 trillion each year, roughly one-third of the U.S. healthcare system’s total costs.

The future of healthcare is deeply interconnected with the future of machine learning and that of artificial intelligence.

AI might be the answer in the struggle to reduce and make manageable some of the healthcare system’s administrative tasks, and the current Walgreen-Nuance endeavor to make scheduling vaccines easier falls into this category.

AI assistant help healthcare professionals give and patients receive better care

If big data managing and red tape reduction are maybe part of the less-seen side of the healthcare business, the AI assistants could very well be the stars, various companies attempting to improve theirs to help patients get better care while making nice money selling the machines or apps.  

In 2018, those who regularly use a home assistant were happy to find out Amazon had patented a new version of its virtual assistant Alexa. The new feature was supposed to use speech analysis to recognize signs of illness or emotion. The app was going to detect whether the speaker was ill and offer to sell the medicine.

The patent presented the example of a woman coughing and sniffling during her inquiry of the  Amazon Echo device. At first, Alexa suggested chicken soup could help with her cold, and then asked whether to order cough drops on Amazon.

The process of implementing AI solutions in as many aspects of healthcare as possible shows no signs of slowing down, on the contrary. 

Getting US citizens vaccinated against COVID-19 is a huge administrative undertaking

The current coronavirus pandemic caused further disruption of the healthcare system, with telemedicine and AI-assisted procedures becoming more and more common. The current process of getting US citizens vaccinated is difficult and a huge administrative undertaking and the access to the anti-COVID-19 shot is not smooth everywhere. 

To help manage vaccination, Walgreen deployed Nuance’s AI-powered Intelligent Engagement solutions to meet the needs of more customers by extending access to vaccine information and scheduling beyond its web-based portal.

Nuance’s intelligent conversational voice bot is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to Walgreens customers who now call 1-800-Walgreens or a Walgreens store. The AI is able to speak in either English or Spanish, answer COVID-19 questions, confirm patient vaccination eligibility according to applicable guidelines, and schedule their vaccine appointments wherever vaccines are available. The Nuance solution also sends the customer an SMS text to confirm appointments after the call. 

“Ensuring equitable access to care is essential,” said Robert Weideman, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Nuance. “Using our proven voice and AI-powered solutions to help as many Walgreen customers as possible experience a more modern, convenient, and secure process for scheduling their COVID vaccine appointments is one of the most important outcomes we can achieve.”

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