Clevertar and SA Health launch COVID-19 virtual agent

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South Australians can now access instant and authoritative answers to their COVID-19 queries thanks to a virtual agent developed by Adelaide-based tech company Clevertar.

Available via www.sahealth.sa.gov.au, the virtual agent ‘Zoe’ can answer a range of common COVID-19 questions and help users find the information they need through guided conversation.

At a time when demand for health related information has increased exponentially, Zoe is able to work around-the-clock to answer questions and help South Australians follow official health guidelines, Clevertar CEO Tanya Newhouse said.

“We are proud to be assisting SA Health to alleviate some of the pressures on the health system, allowing their vital staff to triage more complex enquiries and make sure everyone has access to accurate and timely information about COVID-19”, Tanya said. 

“In the face of rolling news coverage, it’s understandable that many people are experiencing stress and overwhelm, leading to increased demand on call centres and increased wait times.

“This technology will help alleviate some of that pressure, allowing SA Health staff to triage more complex and urgent enquiries, helping to potentially save lives and protect the vulnerable.

“It gives organisations like SA Health an unprecedented opportunity to deliver timely and accurate health information at scale.”

Developed over just a few days, Clevertar will now spend the coming weeks developing Zoe so that she can answer a wider range of complex questions.

“Zoe in her current form is just the start; at the moment she is able to answer a set of pre-defined questions and provides relevant links to further information. The next development phase is all about ensuring she has even greater capabilities and is able to answer more questions,” Tanya said.

“Research shows our technology is reassuring, authoritative and warm; qualities that are much-needed in customer service during a global pandemic. It’s about providing a simple and friendly experience at a time when users are feeling anxious and worried.

“Rather than consumers finding it difficult to hold a conversation with this technology, the evolution of virtual agents like Zoe with their human-like features, speech and body language have been shown to enhance the consumer’s responsiveness to information provided.

“We know that consumers enjoy interacting with virtual humans as it’s convenient and self-directed; we certainly hope that Zoe is going to be a big help over the next few months.”