Building chatbots for health content? This is for you.

By Abigail Winskell, Deputy Director for Delivering Innovation in Self-Care (DISC), PSI  

Common challenges and pitfalls, as well as solutions, for using chatbots to provide clear, customized health information to large audiences in the Global South.   

The following is a transcript of the above video.  

Are you building a chatbot as a digital tool for health-related content? 

Are you looking for ways to increase users and engagement on your chatbot? 

Are you seeking new ways to gain insight into the user experience of your digital tool? 

Here are the 5 things you need to know.  

  1. Using a chatbot to get information and support about health-related content (and specifically, sexual & reproductive health) is a completely new behavior. It isn’t enough to tell consumers WHERE to find your chatbot, you also need to educate them on WHAT a chatbot is and WHY they should use it – the value it offers them as a platform.  
  1. Our reading behavior online is to dip in and out of content in an ‘on-demand’ fashion. Long and complex menus can be overwhelming and turn people off. If you have directed people to your chatbot with a very specific call-to-action, don’t make them work too hard to find the information they are interested in.  
  1. Trust is key. We have all been warned of the dangers of clicking on unknown links and becoming unsuspecting victims to fraud and viruses. Partnerships or sponsorships by trusted entities can help to provide credibility for your app. Or simply, you can avoid using bitly links and instead use more readable shortened URLs that use the program name.  
  1. Consumers are keen on the idea of a chatbot as a ‘one stop shop’ that caters to a range of needs and products. However, their expectation of the functionality is more like google where they can seek an immediate relevant answer to their questions (rather than constrained through a pre-determined menu).  
  1. Continuous user feedback is required. User-centered design during build is important, and ongoing feedback across user groups can ensure it is fit for purpose and remains relevant. A great channel for this is leveraging nano-influencer networks. They can quickly gather groups of users who are willing to give candid and rich feedback due to the authenticity of the relationships they have with the influencers.  

Meet Tina. She’s the friend that every woman needs – she is discreet, available whenever you need her and gives advice tailored to your needs. Tina is a one-stop shop to access information about self-inject and other contraceptives, locate the nearest healthcare provider and find training resources to use at home. Between March and August, we had 300,000 click throughs to find out more about self-inject but our chatbot only had 7k users. We wanted to learn more about why there was such a large drop off in consumers engaging with Tina. So we partnered with AIfluence to work with their network of nano-influencers to gather insight from users and non-users of the chatbot.  

How did we adapt based on our learnings? 

  • Implemented a shortened registration process and simplified the menu, resulting in a 10 percent decrease in the bounce rate and 29 percent increase in registration completion.  
  • Improved our call-to-action on our campaigns and removed unidentifiable links, contributing to significant increases in users.  
  • Now we are exploring the potential for using natural language processing options to replace menu-based interaction and expanding to offer information and support for a wider range of self-care options.  

More? Hear from Abigail during the 2021 Global Digital Health Forum. She’ll be presenting on 12/6 at 730 AM EST. Details here. 

About Project DISC 
Driven by deep consumer insights, Delivering Innovation in Self-Care (DISC) supports women to take more control over their sexual and reproductive health. By doing so, women become active participants in their health systems and critical new partners for health providers. In Nigeria and Uganda, we work in close partnership with women and their providers, increasing informed demand as well as local innovation and capacity for self-care as a cornerstone of sexual and reproductive health care, starting with self-injectable contraceptives. Learn More.  

To learn more about DISC, visit 

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