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Artificial intelligence assists Queenslanders on pandemic

Lettered blocks that spell out "coronavirus"

By Georgia Parsonson 

Queensland Health has used artificial intelligence to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic adequately.

The community demand for reliable, up-to-date information prompted the Queensland Health Department to employ a Facebook chatbot, which has been answering the COVID-19 related questions for over a year. 

It delivers vital data to Facebook users instantaneously, by way of automated messages, and regardless of the time of day. 

Deploying the chatbot on the 27th of March, 2020, Queensland Health was the first Health Department in Australia to embrace this technology.

“Queenslanders wanted timely, engaging information from a source they trusted,” said Robert Hoge, Executive Director of the Strategic Communications Branch.

“Between January and April last year, engagement across our social media platforms soared by 450% in a matter of months, with 3.9 million comments, reactions, clicks and shares, and more than 10,000 private messages in a single month.

“We had no manual to manage this pandemic, but it did give us the opportunity to think about getting information to the public when, where and how they wanted it.”

Elise Meakin is Queensland Health’s Creative, Social, and Digital Media Manager. She said that social media engagement was a significant aspect of Queensland Health’s response to the pandemic.

“Our team was at the frontline responding to community questions, fact-checking and providing information during a rapidly evolving public health emergency. But there was only so much we could do,” she said. 

“One of the most successful additions of the Queensland Health chatbot was the COVID-19 testing clinic function enabling users to quickly and easily locate a clinic nearest to them. 

This tool has been critical in getting more Queenslanders tested. By creating this simple tool and promoting it via Facebook, we saw a direct real-world impact in the form of increased testing numbers at the clinics most viewed in our locator tool.” 

Over 64,000 people have used the chatbot to find COVID-19 information. 20,000 users have subscribed, and those users have received almost 100 health alert notifications.

“Notably, the average chatbot to human handover rate is only 10%. This means the chatbot successfully answers most users queries without the need for human intervention,” Ms Meakin said.

“Additionally, our users love interacting with the chatbot, with almost 70% of those surveyed saying they find it useful.”

Connect with the Queensland Health Chatbot today:

To check out how the Queensland Health Chatbot works watch this video:  

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