What the world needs most right now is more doctors. But we’ve realized that besides being a medical challenge, this crisis is also a challenge of communication. Of getting correct information to the population en masse.
If the whole population thinks and behaves in the right way, we can flatten the curve. This helps buy our doctors and researchers the necessary time and space for treating the sick and producing antiviral drugs and vaccines.
That’s why we've built a chatbot that answers coronavirus-related questions on websites and across messaging channels (WhatsApp, FB Messenger, SMS, Telegram).
What it does
When you have a question about the coronavirus or COVID-19, the idea is that you can simply send this question, and the chat robot runs it through its algorithm and produces a qualified answer.
The CoronAssist Bot can work on websites. So a health institute could implement it on their website and offer a more interactive, tailored way of answering questions.
It is also possible to offer the chatbot via messaging channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and SMS. That would make getting qualified information as easy as directly sending your question to a number and getting an instant response.
In principle, there is no limit to the number of chats the CoronAssist Bot can process. Its goal is to be the ultimate bottleneck reliever for an efficient flow of crucial and qualified information.
Besides offering qualified answers to the questions people ask , we thought it would be a good idea to nudge its users toward other crucial questions.
We can imagine that our healthcare institutions want everyone to know at least three or four things about coronaviruses and COVID-19 – such as the best measures to take for minimizing the spread.
That’s why, after answering the user’s questions, the user is free to ask another question, but CoronAssist also suggests up to three follow-up questions that the user can simply click.
This way, the chatbot nudges users toward the most crucial questions and answers – questions they might not have thought of themselves.
How we built it
The CoronAssist Bot is the product of a partnership between Userlike (a business chat provider) and OMQ (an AI customer service solution).
Our companies have already been working together on commercial projects, in which Userlike provided the chat infrastructure and OMQ the AI chatbot technology. So it was not a lot of development work to set this up.
To get the CoronAssist Bot producing the right answers, we've set up a knowledge base through OMQ with questions and answers taken from official German information sources like this website: https://www.zusammengegencorona.de/informieren/
Currently the CoronAssist Bot is set up for Germany, because that is where we are from. But we can easily set up versions of the chatbot for any country, or a general world-wide one.
Challenges we ran into
Our main challenge is to get in touch with official healthcare institutions to complete the chatbot and bring it to the people. What we have now is a prototype. The technology is there, but we want to be absolutely sure that the information that the chatbot provides is 100% accurate. For this, we need to work together with healthcare institutions that want to implement it on their website and/or their messaging apps (WhatsApp, FB Messenger, SMS or Telegram).
What's next for CoronAssist Bot
First, we want to partner up with official healthcare institutions to complete the chatbot.
Secondly, currently the chatbot still only works on websites. We need to extend our Chatbot API to our messaging channels to make them work.
Thirdly, if there is interest from institutions, we would like to build a 'qualifying patients' version. So that when you are wondering whether you might have caught the coronavirus, the CoronAssist Bot asks you a set of questions, and based on your answers gives you a recommendation (go to the hospital, isolate yourself, or follow standard procedures).