And she'll assess your symptoms.
As this COVID-19 pandemic worsens and hospitals around the world continue to be strained with an influx of patients, big tech is playing its part in helping some people assess their symptoms at home.
Over the weekend, Apple has updated Siri to provide information to people who are concerned they have COVID-19. Following in the footsteps of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google's sibling healthcare brand Verily, people in the US will now have the option of using their smart tools to help screen themselves for the coronavirus, in an effort to lessen the number of people showing up to hospitals for testing.
symptom triage tool
While the feature is only currently live in the US, when asked "Do I have the coronavirus?" or "How do I know if I have coronavirus?", the virtual assistant will invite users to take part in a short questionnaire detailing any symptoms, like fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, Siri will offer some suggestions regarding self-isolation or reaching out to healthcare providers. If users say their symptoms are life-threatening, Siri will direct to call 911.
The symptom triage tool's answers are being provided from the US’s Public Health Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For users in Ireland, Siri appears to direct us to a related UK government website.
Siri’s new functionality mirrors similar efforts from other tech companies like Microsoft, who has developed an assessment bot Clara, in partnership with the CDC. In its statement, Microsoft hoped that Clara will "help the CDC and other frontline organisations respond to inquiries, freeing up doctors, nurses, administrations, and other healthcare professionals to provide critical care to those who need it."
Beware of misinformation
As the pandemic continues to spread around the world, and people try to understand how they should respond to it, more of the population will turn to virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri and Clara to get information about the coronavirus.
But it's worth keeping in mind that many of these companies have been pushed to tweak their various platforms to prevent misinformation and to ensure that accurate information from health authorities is actually getting to users.
A reminder that amid a global crisis like this current pandemic, while these tools hold the potential to lessen the burden on frontline healthcare workers, big tech can't solve this on its own.