PRA brings Microsoft into COVID-19 monitoring tool

By Jenni Spinner contact

- Last updated on GMT

(plej92/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(plej92/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Related tags: Microsoft, Pra health sciences, COVID-19, Coronavirus

The company has added the Microsoft Healthcare Bot service into its commercial Health Harmony COVID-19 Monitoring Program.

PRA Health Sciences, a North Carolina-based contract research organization (CRO), has integrated Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot tool into its Health Harmony COVID-19 Monitoring Program. The feature enables users of the platform to use the AI-based chat bot, which has the ability to recognize and answer questions related to COVID-19.

Enhanced experience

Kent Thoelke, EVP and chief scientific officer with PRA, told Outsourcing-Pharma that the Health Harmony COVID-19 Monitoring Program enables participants to track any COVID-19 symptoms they may be experiencing, and educate themselves about the virus. The incorporation of the Microsoft bot, he said, enhances the experience.

For users of the Health Harmony app, the enrollment experience becomes more personalized and is more accurate in determining the level of COVID-19 care needed​,” he explained. “For organizations that have implemented PRA’s COVID-19 Monitoring Program, the integration allows them to understand patient flow and to monitor, educate, and individualize care with greater agility​.”

Jean Gabarra, general manager of health AI at Microsoft, said solutions like these help increase the accessibility of clinical research and healthcare resources.

When technology like Microsoft’s COVID-19 Healthcare Bot and a user-friendly interface like the Health Harmony app can be combined with the insights and expertise of a global healthcare intelligence partner like PRA, patients’ health and wellbeing will benefit tremendously​,” she said.

Thoelke added that the Health Harmony app and newly integrated bot offers patients a high degree of empowerment.

With PRA’s Health Harmony app in their hands, patients can track signs, symptoms and self-manage their own COVID-19-related care, but if symptoms escalate, remote monitoring and the help obtained from a healthcare professional can make all the difference. PRA is giving patients more control and better access to personalized healthcare, right from their own devices and on their own schedule​,” he said.

Longtime partnership

According to Thoelke, PRA has been partnering with Microsoft for some time, on several projects. The company’s Care Innovations, for example, has used Microsoft Azure services to scale operations.

When Microsoft approached Care Innovations and PRA on the new COVID-19 Health Harmony solution, it only made sense that jointly the three companies could make a deeper impact to the healthcare industry by expanding our reach via the Azure Marketplace. Not only will the marketplace allow us to continue to provide our patient engagement services to those that need it the most, but it will also help us continue to raise our own brand awareness into new segments of life sciences and the pharma industry,​” Thoelke explained.

After a series of conversational questions and interactions within the Health Harmony platform, the chatbot compares users’ symptoms to Centers for Disease Control guidance. It then recommends one of three available COVID-19 programs in which they should enroll.

Users interacting via the Health Harmony app reportedly encounter an enrollment experience designed to be more personalized and accurate in determining the level of COVID-19 care needed. Additionally, organizations implementing the COVID-19 Monitoring Program are able to better understand patient flow and to monitor, educate and individualize care with greater agility, Thoelke told us.

PRA reports that since March, thousands of global users have downloaded the Health Harmony app and enrolled in the COVID-19 Monitoring Program. Available commercially to employers, payers, providers and health systems, offers three levels of support:

  • Educational: providing vital sign tracking, prevention techniques and mental health support for those who are asymptomatic.
  • Quarantine: delivering insights on what to watch for, outlining feelings of fear and isolation, and connecting with a healthcare professional if exposure occurs.
  • In-depth monitoring: addressing symptom management, frequent monitoring by a healthcare professional and care coordination for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and who are still at home.

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