‘Chloe for COVID-19’ gives real-time answers
July 8, 2020
MONTREAL – Have you come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 and don’t know what to do? Do you need to self-isolate and require support? With the list of coronavirus-related symptoms constantly changing, are you unsure if you’re infected?
Montreal-based virtual care leader Dialogue (www.dialogue.co/) is providing all Canadians with real-time answers to these, and other, coronavirus-related questions with the launch of a free virtual medical assistant called Chloe for COVID-19.
The user-friendly, automated resource uses artificial intelligence to provide daily check-in support to those in isolation, and direct where and when to get tested for the virus, in addition to addressing a wide variety of concerns.
“When the pandemic hit, we asked ourselves ‘What can we do to help the public?’” said Alexis Smirnov (pictured), Dialogue co-founder and CTO. “We were already providing virtual care services to millions of Canadians through our corporate service, but felt we had a greater responsibility to support the public at large.”
The team initially developed Chloe for COVID-19 in March as an information resource to give Canadians access to relevant and accurate data, and alleviate strain on 811 health services nationally.
The latest version, launched this month with funding support from national innovation organization Mitacs (https://www.mitacs.ca/), offers robust features such as wide-ranging Q&A capabilities, daily guidance for those in required 14-day self-isolation, and up-to-the-minute information on coronavirus testing, including nearest test centres nationally and whether or not an appointment is needed.
“If you need to self-isolate, for example, Chloe will get in touch with you every day to track your symptoms, tell you what to expect, and provide guidance on where to go for support if you need help,” Smirnov explained.
Accessible at covid19.dialogue.co from any device with Internet access, the Chloe for COVID-19 virtual assistant takes the form of an avatar inspired by the first registered nurse hired by the company when it launched in 2016. It relies on information from trusted Canadian medical and government sources to provide general information on the virus as well as to answer more specific questions related to infection and complication risk, virus spread, symptoms, treatment, travel plans and more.
Data is fast moving and varied across Canada, with every provincial and municipal jurisdiction having its own COVID-19 website, explained Smirnov, so it’s Chloe’s job to quickly access that information, index it and provide the most relevant and accurate information to users.
Helping to accelerate the technology’s development are Université de Montréal Master’s students from the Mila Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute, who are sharing their expertise in machine learning.
Their internship is funded by Mitacs, which is currently offering Canadian companies developing solutions to COVID-19 a special promotion where the company need only invest $3,750 towards total funding of $15,000 that covers an intern’s pay for up to six months.
Calling the Mitacs interns’ work “instrumental in helping to advance Chloe,” Smirnov said “the students are working alongside our engineers to solve our most important technological challenges.”
These include fine-tuning Chloe’s natural language processing abilities, and advancing the underlying chatbot conversational system.
Chloe for COVID-19 is being developed in conjunction with technology partners Dataperformers, Google Cloud, Mila, Nu Echo, Samasource and Scale AI.
The project has capacity for even more research interns. Interested students studying software engineering, artificial intelligence or telemedicine anywhere in Canada should contact the Mitacs business development team (https://www.mitacs.ca/en/contact-us/business-development).
Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions. It is funded by the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, and the Government of Saskatchewan. For information about Mitacs and its programs, see mitacs.ca/newsroom.