Conversational AI Startup Botco.ai Scales Immunization Record-Checking Chatbot
Botco.ai is expanding the reach of its immunization health-focused chatbot, Athena, to more of the United States. The startup is scaling up its partnership with STChealth and its vaccine information exchange network, the largest in the country.
Athena is accessible on the MyIR Mobile website. MyIR is a nearly decade-old creation of STCHealth and various state health departments to provide easy access to people looking for their immunization history. Botco.ai built Athena to help visitors find their records and answer any questions they have about immunization and vaccines. The conversational AI pulls from STChealth’s databases as well as public health agencies to answer any inquiries with casual language. STChealth and Botco.ai initially offered Athena only in Mississippi, Maryland and North Dakota, where it received tens of thousands of questions, especially as the COVID-19 vaccines began to roll out. STChealth calculated the bot was handling at least two full-time employees worth of questions during the pandemic.
Athena successfully answering about 95% of questions posed to it, more than 72,000 total so far. The chatbot would connect those who wanted more than it could provide to a human operator. That success rate is why STChealth and Botco.ai are extending the arrangement. Now, Athena can be used by people in Louisiana, Washington State, and Washington, DC to find their immunization records, and the companies are planning a greater expansion soon.
“In 2021, people naturally have a lot of questions about vaccines and their immunization records—too many questions to be answered efficiently by humans,” Botco.ai CEO Rebecca Clyde said in a statement. “It is only through automated chat technology that we can answer all of the complex questions consumers have right now, and yet our intelligent and conversational chat algorithms enable Athena to interact with people on a very human level. We stand behind STChealth’s mission to help consumers get access to important immunization information, and we are proud to contribute the technology to allow that to happen.”
Botco.ai is fueling its growth both with revenue and venture capital. The startup closed a $2.2 million seed funding round led by Stout Street Capital in February. The company’s platform produces multi-channel chatbots for messaging platforms as well as client websites. The AI is currently handling conversations on available services, insurance coverage, and making appointments, as well as fetching immunization records. The chatbot integrates with the provider’s electronic health records (EHR) network, which it can do because it is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant. The healthcare chatbot boom began during the pandemic but shows no sign of slowing down, and competition is still growing.
“With the COVID-19 vaccine rolling out and people hoping to return to their previous lives and activities, immunization records have never been more important than they are now,” STChealth director of consumer engagement Michelle Bonjour said. “We built MyIR Mobile to help people get access to their immunization records in order to prove their vaccination status to schools, workplaces, airlines and other places that might require them, but because there are so many people with questions about the vaccine and their immunization records, there’s no way we could have implemented such a program without the help of Botco.ai’s chat technology.”