After a positive test result, the GGD starts a thorough Contact Tracing process. This consists of several parts. First, the GGD will talk to the person who was tested in order to get a clear picture of the situation. How is he or she doing, what are the symptoms? How was this person infected (source)? Who may have been infected by this person? Who has he/she been in contact with? Anyone who has been in the vicinity for more than 15 minutes within a 1.5-meter radius will then also receive a phone call. These persons are possibly infected and are advised to comply with the appropriate precautions. After that, monitoring will follow. All contacts are called at various moments to see how they are doing.
An average Contact Tracing takes about 8 hours. This includes the preparation, the research, the interviews, the monitoring, the advice, and the administrative processing.
At GGD West-Brabant, they believed this process of Contact Tracing and Monitoring had to become easier for the citizen. During an innovation sprint, they thought about what could help.
Scaling up was necessary to be able to call all people who tested positive. Besides the 'normal' GGD, a whole organization was formed, focussing entirely on COVID-19.
• Customer friction
Calling is not always the best way. Sometimes it is not the right time, or someone finds it annoying to be called. It also happened that people with complaints were actually waiting for a call from the GGD.
What if people could report whether they have complaints at a self-selected time? What if we could provide contact in a way the citizen prefers?
To this end, a solution was devised: sending an automated SMS to start the conversation. However, a closed dialogue wouldn't be appropriate in this situation. GGD West-Brabant was looking for a better customer experience than just a questionnaire with a checklist would provide.
With a chatbot, the GGD can retrieve information in an interactive way. The combination with SMS offers possibilities. This way, they can remind contacts to interact with the bot.
Together with CM.com, GGD West-Brabant explored their requirements. The effortless integration between the different CM.com solutions proved to be a great advantage.
In the Proof-of-Concept, an intelligent chatbot was built using Conversational AI Cloud, which could run on the website using the Default Chatbot Interface. By integrating with the Customer Data Platform, the GGD was able to send text messages in a fully automated way.
The chatbot was used for Contact Monitoring. During quarantine, the person in question receives an SMS every day with a link to GGDchat. This is where the chatbot asks for COVID-19 symptoms. In case of any symptoms, they are immediately advised to get tested. Additionally, the chatbot can give tips to prevent further infections and knows everything about the prevailing measures.
The results of the Proof-of-Concept were very promising. The project was initiated to make monitoring easier and more user-friendly, especially for citizens. We succeeded in doing so. GGD West-Brabant sent users of the conversational bot a survey. Ease of use scored very well.
Anonymous respondent: "I absolutely loved the app, it was very clear and I didn't see any drawbacks".
One of the two best results for GGD West-Brabant was actually being able to trace people with symptoms. As a result, people could go for a test more quickly and then go into isolation. With the non-automated monitoring, people often waited to report their symptoms until they were called by the GGD.
The second unique result was the time savings. By organizing the monitoring this way, GGD West-Brabant saved almost 70 hours of time. This means a gain of 85%!
The response rate of 65% was higher than the target of 60%. To the daily messages, 65% responded.
An 85% time savings! An unexpected outcome, but a nice bonus. The chatbot is faster than calling.
Due to the declining number of COVID-19 infections, GGD West-Brabant has discontinued the development and roll-out of the chatbot. Nevertheless, they do see strong potential for the future.
Conversational AI is a marvelous way of providing public information. Especially as a chatbot on your website. People can go there for all kinds of questions. For example for occupational or travel vaccinations, there are certain questions people always ask. These questions can be automated.
A chatbot could also be a godsend for STD clinics, providing information anonymously.
*Photography courtesy of GGDGHOR NL.
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