ICYMI - Chatbots and HIV Communications: What You Need to Know

Content From: HIV.govPublished: July 01, 20183 min read


Editor's Note: Keep an eye out for HIV.gov's launch of our own chatbot in the next few months.

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Cartoon of chatbot messaging user

Some of today’s biggest technology companies are changing the way we find and interact with health information by expanding their use of chatbots. A chatbotExit Disclaimer, which can be powered by voice or text, is a messaging tool designed to act like a conversation or interaction. Chatbots, also referred to as conversation agents or “bots” for short, are making interacting with technology a lot like talking to a personExit Disclaimer.

Advancements in technology continue to offer new ways to communicate HIV information. Here are some of our recent findings on the state of bots.

Bots have gained recent momentum for the following reasons:

 We see a lot of potential for using bots for HIV communications. Some (not yet developed) examples include:

  • Helping a user find information on a website more quickly
  • Answering simple questions about who should get an HIV test and where, when, and how an individual can get tested
  • Assisting a patient in scheduling or rescheduling a clinic appointment
  • Enhancing an existing mobile application by offering customer service

If you’re exploring or building your own bot, here are some industry best practices:

  • Assess your organization’s needs - Review your communication goals and your users’ needs to see if a chatbot is a good fit.
  • Build for a realistic and simple use case - For current bots, the best use cases are for simple tasks that can be solved in a short conversation.
  • Focus on the content - Many of today’s most effective bots use a clear script, mirror the target audience’s language (including slang words), and use friendly and inclusive language that repeats input from the user to check for understanding.
  • Ease users into interacting with the bot - Using familiar elements (such as buttons) and preset responses, gives users clear steps and can make first time users feel more comfortable.
  • Set user expectations early - Let users know they are talking to a bot, not a human, and be clear about what the bot is capable of.
  • Improve user retention through research and testing - Focus on the user’s initial interactions with the bot, which is where most users drop off, and conduct user testing to improve the experience.

Bots are already making a positive impact on health and health care, including applications that help to provide rapid diagnosis, point to optimum health care solutions, increase awareness of social issues, and motivate the right actions. Here are some additional blog posts:

Watch for additional content from HIV.gov on bots – Don’t forget to sign-up to have our articles delivered to you by email so you don’t miss a post!