New Online COVID-19 Symptom Tracker Available To Utah Public
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Intermountain Healthcare has developed a free online tool to prescreen symptoms for COVID-19; her name is Scout.
More than 80,000 people have utilized the tool since it launched a week ago. Intermountain Healthcare’s Susan Tew, assistant vice president of consumer experience, said this is a quick and easy way for someone to either calm their fears or get the medical attention they need.
Scout is an artificial intelligence chat robot and helps determine the best care for someone at risk of the virus, by answering a series of yes-or-no questions.
Tew said screening people at home keeps everyone safe, by not introducing unnecessary exposure to them or healthcare providers.
“So that we’re not introducing risk to those that are trying to care for them or for others in the community,” she said.
Scout also provides clarity for those wondering if they have COVID-19.
“They’ve got a recommendation for what they should do next and we hope that’s calming as well as informational,” Tew said.
The bot is accessible on Intermountain Healthcare’s website from either a computer or mobile device.
She asks questions such as: Have you recently traveled to an area of high-risk for COVID-19? Do you have a cough? Have you had a fever recently? Are you feeling mild to moderate shortness of breath? Are you experiencing symptoms that feel like a life-threatening medical emergency? How old are you?
Depending on the individual’s responses, they will either be asked to stay at home, call the COVID-19 call center, call 911, or go immediately to the emergency room.
“If we see that you have some symptoms, we actually want to err on the side of caution and get you in front of those nurses, our APPs (advanced practice providers), as well as our physicians who are manning our COVID call center,” Tew said. “They’re able to do an assessment by phone and based upon what they’re hearing from you, then they’re going to tell you what you need to do next.”
If a doctor thinks an individual showing symptoms needs a test, they will be sent to one of Intermountain Healthcare’s 22 curbside drive-thru locations throughout the state.
Tew said the bot is updated daily based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and state health officials.
“And as things change with this disease, because it is very fast-paced, we’re able to update our symptom checker to reflect that,” Tew said, including different symptoms presenting in the disease.
Intermountain reports about half of those using the symptom checker had no risk or very low risk. One-third of users were recommended to the COVID-19 hotline or a telehealth visit for further screening, nine percent were asked to self-quarantine, six percent were directed to the emergency department, and one percent was asked to call 911.
Tew said those who might be skeptical of answering questions through a bot can still call Intermountain Healthcare’s COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-5224, or talk to their health care provider.
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How Do I Prevent It?
The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.
How To Get Help
If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.
If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at email@example.com.
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