Azure AI Health Bot helps create copilot experiences with healthcare safeguards

Co-authored by Bert Hoorne, Senior Program Manager, Health AI and Lilach Goldshtein, Program Manager, Health AI.

The generative AI era is driving demand for chatbots and copilots for health that assist patients and medical professionals with various administrative and clinical tasks. These chatbots would potentially use large language models (LLMs) to generate conversational AI chat experiences that can provide accurate and reliable information based on large amounts of medical literature and data.

As a result of the growing demand, many healthcare organizations are striving to build their own healthcare copilot experiences that deliver intelligent and engaging chat experiences leveraging LLMs and generative AI.

In the process, healthcare organizations have realized that as part of healthcare’s unique needs, they need a way to combine the benefits of using generative AI for engaging chat experiences with the benefits of protocol-based flows and custom workflows to provide accurate and relevant information. A hybrid approach that combines both would allow them to offer a more personalized and comprehensive service to their customers and end users.

Moreover, healthcare chat experiences need to leverage domain-specialized models and health-specific safeguards to meet the healthcare industry quality bar.

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Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare

Deliver meaningful outcomes across the healthcare journey

To address these needs, we’re adding new healthcare-specific safeguards for generative AI in private preview within the Azure AI Health Bot services. Preview customers can experience an integration with Microsoft Copilot Studio, allowing healthcare organizations to build their own copilot experiences. Customers can sign up for the private preview here.

  • Providing reusable healthcare-specific functionality: providing healthcare-specific, pre-built capabilities, use cases and scenarios—including pre-packaged healthcare intelligence plugins, templates, content, and healthcare-specialized skills and connectors.
  • Answering the unique needs of healthcare: enabling customers to build copilots for their patients and doctors, supporting protocol-based workflows side-by-side with generative AI-based answers, and allowing customers to keep alignment with up-to-date industry standards, guidelines, and protocols.
  • Applying healthcare-specific safeguards: allowing customers to build copilots responsibly adapted to healthcare needs, apply health-adapted compliance controls, and implement health-specific safeguards and quality measures that are specialized for healthcare.

Generative AI capabilities 

In April 2023, we announced the preview of Azure AI Health Bot with Azure OpenAI Service, enabling fallback answers based on generative AI.

Today, we are expanding those capabilities beyond fallback answers, enabling our healthcare customers to further enrich their copilot experiences with the following capabilities in private preview:  

  • Power generative answers that are grounded on customer’s own sources. The sources are incorporated during the copilot experience, alongside authored descriptive scenarios, protocol-based pre-built flows, and skills. Customers are able to bring in their Azure OpenAI Service endpoint and index to enable generative answers grounded on their desired sources.
  • Generative answers that are grounded on the customer’s websites. These sources are real-time queried and can include medical guidelines, health articles, patient treatments, frequently asked questions, appointment scheduling information, and many more. This approach ensures that patients receive not only medical guidance but also support for the many aspects of their healthcare journey.
  • New healthcare intelligence capabilities to incorporate generative answers grounded on credible healthcare sources. Sources include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and others.
  • Seamlessly use pre-built protocol-based healthcare intelligence capabilities such as symptom checkers and triage, and a rich gallery of pre-built protocol templates side-by-side with generative AI based answers.
  • Credible generative AI fallback ensures reliable and accurate responses in healthcare-related scenarios. In cases where answers are not available, this feature leverages credible content to enhance responses, providing users with reliable guidance backed by clinical Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) support. Helping to mitigate potential errors and ensures the delivery of trusted information in healthcare settings.

Built-in safeguards

Azure AI Health Bot with generative AI technology provides built-in healthcare safeguards now in private preview, for building copilot experiences that fits healthcare’s unique requirements and needs. Those include:

  • Clinical safeguards include healthcare-adapted filters and quality checks to allow verification of clinical evidence associated with answers, identifying hallucinations and omissions in generative answers, credible sources enforcement, and more.
  • Healthcare chat safeguards include customizable AI-related disclaimers that are incorporated into the chat experience presented to users, enabling the collection of end-user feedback, and analyzing the engagement through built-in dedicated reporting, as well as healthcare-adapted abuse monitoring, among other things.
  • Healthcare-adapted compliance controls include built-in Data Subject Rights (DSRs), pre-built consent management, out-of-the-box audit trails, and more.

Scenario template catalog that contains templates to help organizations easily add and customize different scenarios in their bot.

Customer excitement is growing

Many customers are already taking advantage of the generative AI capabilities during preview.

Roche Pharmaceuticals shared more about how they are using the Azure AI Health Bot to power their copilot experience.

“As we move forward into the Age of Copilots, our collaboration with Microsoft and Crayon has enabled us to explore new ways how clinicians can interact with our Healthcare Professional (HCP) portals. By leveraging Azure AI Health Bot to build copilot experiences for doctors, we are developing an intuitive, conversational interface that lets clinicians access and explore Roche’s clinical documentations in a more natural way and to cope with the complexity and flood of information. The pilot for this new user experience, powered by generative AI features and compliant with the necessary security standards, has been integrated into our systems and will be further tailored to regional market needs. We’re excited to see how this revolutionary AI experience will transform healthcare, making knowledge more accessible and actionable for clinicians around the world.”

—Dr. Georg Isbary, Head of Portfolio and Customer Excellence and Elias Zimmer, Manager of Digital Customer Excellence from Roche Pharma Germany.

Ramsay Santé is collaborating with Microsoft to create a copilot experience for their doctors and clinical staff using this technology with generative AI.

“We are excited to be collaborating with Microsoft to explore the potential of generative AI through services like the Azure AI Health Bot. This partnership aims to enhance healthcare content utilization at Ramsay Santé, offering a transformative way for healthcare professionals to engage with the vast clinical knowledge base. Our innovative solution facilitates seamless and efficient interactions, providing healthcare teams with quick access to answers, recommendations, and inventive troubleshooting solutions, all delivered through an intuitive chat interface. We are confident that it holds the promise to play a pivotal role in our daily operations, reducing time to find relevant content, and potentially revolutionizing the way we provide patient care.”

—Niklas Sundler, Technology Innovation Director at Ramsay Santé.

Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel—a Clalit Hospital, represented by Dr. Patrick Stafler, Chief Medical Officer of Schneider Innovation Center, and Dr. Shai Yitzhaki, Pediatric Doctor and Startup Advisor, stated:

“One of the ultimate goals is to empower physicians in their decision-making to not only reduce workload and accelerate processes, but also to enhance compliance with established diagnostic and treatment protocols, thereby elevating patient safety. We have been using an early preview of the Azure AI Health Bot technology to power a generative AI-based chat experience that answers questions about medical protocols, based on existing guidelines and credible sources. Moving forward, this technology, leveraging a conversational power in combination with healthcare-specific services and safeguards, has potential of enabling medical professionals to make and validate their decisions more effectively, follow and execute protocols more accurately and eventually, support better care for patients worldwide.”

Do more with your data with Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare

With the Azure AI Health Bot infused with generative AI and healthcare safeguards, health organizations can build health data services, transform their medical professionals and patient experiences, discover new insights with the power of machine learning and AI, and manage protected health information (PHI) data with confidence. Enable your data for the future of healthcare innovation with Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

We look forward to being your partner as you build the future of health.