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Virtual Assistant FAQs

What is the Virtual Assistant?

The Virtual Assistant is a chat-based tool (chatbot or bot) intended to help you, the patient, understand and find healthcare information at Geisinger.
How can it help me?

The Virtual Assistant is designed with you, the patient, in mind to help understand your symptoms and navigate the Geisinger’s broad range of health care choices. The Virtual Assistant is generally here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year. Below are some reasons you may want to use it:

  • “I feel ill/sick, where do I call or go to be seen?”
  • “I need help finding and booking an appointment with a primary care physician or specialist.”
  • “I need to visit the Urgent Care or Emergency Department and want to locate one near my house/work.”
  • “I want to know what insurance plans you accept.”
  • “I want to know what care sites offer: e.g. vaccines, sick notes, school health forms, etc.”

The chatbot is able to help with several inquiries at this stage, including those below. As of Fall 2020, we are in the early stages of the bot, and there will be more functions added over time (see next question):

  • Find a doctor
  • Find a clinic
  • Check your symptoms
  • Get help with your bill
  • Check if you need to seek testing for COVID-19
  • And more!
What is the future? What additional services will I be able to utilize through the Virtual Assistant?

This is phase one of a multi-year project to help improve the way you connect with your provider and care team. Future improvements and enhancements currently include the following:

  • Virtual Assistant available inside your patient portal
  • Callbacks from nurses and call center representatives
  • Virtual Care on demand
  • Pediatric services
  • Enhanced provider search capabilities and appointment booking options
Where is the Virtual Assistant available? How do I start a conversation?

The Virtual Assistant will be available in the lower right corner on the website (https://www.geisinger.org/get-care-now). Simply click on the widget, and after you agree to the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Terms of Participation for the beta-test, it will take care of the rest. Then you will see buttons named by common inquiries such as “Check my symptoms”, “Find a clinic”, “Find a doctor”. The buttons will lead you through a symptom checking process or help you find other information about Geisinger.
If at any point you need to restart the conversation, you can click on the three bars at the bottom left corner for “Restart the chat.” 
If at any point, you need to speak to a human:

  • For medical issues, please call our Nurse Triage Line at: 570-284-3659
  • For non-medical questions and issues, please call our general operator at: 1 (800) 275-6401
Does the Virtual Assistant replace the medical advice of health care providers?

No, the Virtual Assistant is not a replacement for health care providers. In fact, it was created with a goal of supporting providers in taking care of patients. Just like the providers we work with, the Virtual Assistant started out knowing only the basics. It has been trained by doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses engaged by our contracted vendor and has health care information that you may find helpful. Additional training with real cases has helped, and will continue to help develop a rich knowledge of medicine. In that respect, the Virtual Assistant is still learning, and always will be. If you do not understand a response provided by the Virtual Assistant, please contact your healthcare provider.
Can the Virtual Assistant provide a medical diagnosis, medical advice or treatment options? 

No, the Virtual Assistant is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, medical advice or treatment options, all of which must be provided by a human health care professional. 

The Virtual Assistant is here to try to help navigate you to the most appropriate care offerings. After the Virtual Assistant has helped assess your symptoms, it can – where appropriate – provide information on services that might be relevant to you and your health concerns.

THE VIRTUAL ASSISTANT IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER WHEN SEEKING A DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT, OR MEDICAL ADVICE.

Can I use the Virtual Assistant for my child?

Not yet; the technology is currently designed for patients over the age of 18. Information for children under the age of 18 will be coming soon!
My inquiry was not understood. How can I help it improve?

The Virtual Assistant is still learning and will always be learning. If it did not understand you or you found the results to be incorrect, we encourage you to let us know at virtualassistant@geisinger.edu. We work hard to ensure the information you receive from the Virtual Assistant is as helpful and relevant as possible, and your feedback will help us improve the experience for everyone.

We are continuously improving the medical content and technology, using both internal and external medical review processes. Where questions are raised about a particular assessment, we promptly review the issue and ensure updates are quickly implemented. However, please note that there is no real time monitoring of the chatbot by a Geisinger provider or other Geisinger employee. 

If there are any unexpected or inappropriate responses from the chatbot, please seek care through another route and let us know about the issue with the chatbot at virtualassistant@geisinger.edu. However, this email will not result in immediate response to your concern. To report an issue with immediate response, please call our general operator at: 1 (800) 275-6401.

The information collected is meant to try to understand the urgency of a situation and to triage a patient – it is not meant to help provide a diagnosis or recommend treatment. The Virtual Assistant may be a good starting point, but you should consult with your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment. The Virtual Assistant is not intended to replace a health care provider and you should always consult a health care provider when seeking a diagnosis, treatment or medical advice.

What should I do if the Virtual Assistant does not seem to be working?

Try to restart the chat by selecting the “restart chat” button from the chat window menu found in the lower left corner. You can also refresh the web page or restart your browser. 
If that does not work, please try another route to address your questions and concerns.  

  • For medical issues, please call our Nurse Triage Line at: 570-284-3659
  • For non-medical questions and issues, please call our general operator at: 1 (800) 275-6401

If you encounter issues and wish to provide this as feedback, please email virtualassistant@geisinger.edu.

What are the minimum technical requirements?

The supported browser versions are Microsoft Edge version 42 or higher, Google Chrome version 72.0.3626 or higher, Apple Safari version 12 or higher and Mozilla Firefox version 60 or higher.
What do you do with my personal information? Is the Virtual Assistant HIPAA compliant?

The Virtual Assistant will ask for your personal information when absolutely necessary. If desired, you can have an entirely anonymous encounter here. The Virtual Assistant is encrypted (secure), so any information you share will be protected in a HIPAA-compliant manner. 

How much does it cost to use the Virtual Assistant on Geisinger’s webpage? 

The Virtual Assistant is available on Geisinger’s webpage free of charge. 



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Throughout this document, the term "Geisinger" shall refer to those corporate affiliates within the health care system which are involved in the provisions of health care services and related support services.  Geisinger is comprised of Geisinger Health ("GH") as parent and all subsidiary corporate entities.