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Hyro Unveils Conversational AI Solution to Help Hospitals Avoid Being Overwhelmed by Patients Seeking COVID-19 Vaccinations

Hyro’s VAXA solution is designed to free support agents and clinicians from having to field an expected 500 percent increase in inquiries about newly approved coronavirus vaccines by offloading at least 40 percent of those calls to AI-powered virtual assistants capable of engaging in natural conversations. VAXA also will enable healthcare providers to automate vaccination appointment-setups, minimize vaccine waste, and enable easier post-inoculation monitoring, while countering fake news that is causing patient hesitancy

Hyro, developer of plug-and-play conversational artificial-intelligence (AI) solutions, announced it has begun equipping U.S. hospitals and other medical providers with AI-powered virtual assistants to help them successfully handle the mass-scheduling of COVID-19 vaccinations while stymying the spread of misinformation about the safety and efficacy of the new vaccines.

Known as VAXA, Hyro’s Vaccine Access Solution was created in response to federal Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations issued Dec. 11 and Dec. 18 that cleared the way for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

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Owing to those authorizations, healthcare organizations are reported to be expecting a 500 percent increase above normal call volumes at their support centers as patients jam phone lines in a dash to obtain fact-checked information, assess their eligibility, and secure earliest-possible appointments to receive inoculation, the company explained.

Hyro said providers outfitted with VAXA can expect within a week of implementing the solution to see 40 percent or more of inbound COVID-19 vaccine appointment requests and questions deflected from their support-center agents to AI-powered virtual assistants capable of engaging in natural conversation with patients.

The company also estimated that providers using VAXA can anticipate a 65 percent decrease in the number of callers on hold who hang up out of frustration at being unable to timely reach an agent.

“When the pandemic struck last February, the biggest fear was that hospitals would be inundated with infected patients; but, today, with the warp-speed availability of COVID-19 vaccines, that fear has shifted from hospital ICU overload to overload of hospital switchboards,” said Hyro CEO Israel Krush.

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“The concern,” he continued, “is that many who are eager to receive the vaccine will be put on hold for such a long time due to call-volume overload that they’ll hang up before getting the answers they seek or, more significantly, hang up without having scheduled a vaccination.”

“As a result, we could see fewer people than hoped for being immunized, which might actually prolong the coronavirus pandemic.”

Additionally, VAXA serves to make it less likely scheduled patients will miss their inoculation appointments.

“If people are no-shows, some of the very limited supply of vaccines goes to waste,” said Krush. “To prevent this, our AI virtual assistants—powered by our natural language understanding engine that includes voice and text capabilities—automatically reach out with phone reminders and confirmation requests ahead of the upcoming appointment.”

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Further, VAXA simplifies the process for clinicians to follow-up with patients after inoculation and monitor them for indications of the onset of adverse side-effects by easily integrating with EMR systems.

Healthcare organizations that use the VAXA solution gain omnichannel flexibility, meaning “they can deploy it as a voice-and-text website virtual assistant, as a call-center AI voice assistant in place of live agents, and even as an SMS layer that triggers user-specified automatic messaging,” Krush indicated.

Krush asserted that a core advantage of VAXA is its capacity to reveal—through the solution’s designated analytics suite—the most popular questions and topics for patients surrounding vaccinations. He added that VAXA responds to patients’ questions about eligibility for vaccination, risk of side effects, and other concerns by offering accurate information digitally scraped from the healthcare organization’s own databases, APIs, and webpages, as well as from verified external sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Krush is optimistic that the coronavirus pandemic can at last be brought under control, and that VAXA will play an important role in this effort: “As we enter what is hopefully the last chapter in the story of COVID-19, we are committed to conversational AI as a high-value tool for supporting healthcare organizations during this monumental undertaking.”

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