Walgreens has introduced a voice virtual assistant built on Nuance’s AI platform to help people schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The AI answers questions and helps people calling Walgreens find and set up their vaccine appointments at any time, reducing helping Walgreens field the huge number of incoming inquiries.
The virtual assistant answers when people call a Walgreens store and can converse about COVID-19 vaccine eligibility and availability in English or Spanish. After setting an appointment for the vaccine and hanging up, the virtual assistant will send a text message to the caller’s phone to confirm the date and time. The Walgreens system builds on the COVID-19 and vaccine assistant Nuance launched late last year. It also serves as an example of the virtual assistant platform for healthcare Nuance released in January that streamlined healthcare AI tools for any channel including voice and text.
“Ensuring equitable access to care is essential,” Nuance executive vice president Robert Weideman said in a statement. “Using our proven voice- and AI-powered solutions to help as many Walgreens 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.”
Healthcare has been a major component of Nuance’s development for a while. After partnering with Microsoft to upgrade and merge Nuance’s Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant with Microsoft’s Azure platform at the end of 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated adoption of Nuance’s tech and spurred a rapid-fire release of ugrades and new features, such as virtual check-ups performed over Microsoft Teams with Nuance’s ambient clinical intelligence to transcribe the conversation and help fill in electronic health records. New partners like Cerner, which added the Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant to its platform last year, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adopting Nuance’s Dragon Medical One platform helped as well. The company is poised for even more expansion soon after acquiring healthcare artificial intelligence startup Saykara. Saykara’s voice assistant for doctors, designed to reduce the rate of doctor burnout, will be used to augment Nuance’s platform.