WHO, with support from the Qatar Ministry of Health, has created a health chatbot based on AI algorithms. Florence can talk about mental health, give tips on how to eat right, be more physically active and quit smoking tobacco or e-cigarettes. You can also ask her about COVID-19 vaccinations.
In its first version, Florence helped combat misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines. Now she has new competencies regarding mental health and a healthy lifestyle. WHO hopes to make reliable, health-related advice accessible to everybody who needs it.
It is estimated that 1 in every 8 people in the world lives with a mental disorder. Her topics like tobacco and unhealthy diet kill 16 million people every year, while physical inactivity kills an estimated 830 000. These deaths are due to diseases like cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes that can be prevented and controlled with the right support.
A modern way to reduce information gaps
According to Andy Pattison, WHO’s Team Lead for Digital Channels, digital technology is critical in helping people worldwide lead healthier lives. “The AI health worker Florence is a shining example of the potential to harness technology to promote and protect people’s physical and mental health. AI can help fill gaps in health information that exist in many communities around the world,” he says.
Dr. Yousuf Al Maslamani, the Official Healthcare Spokesperson for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Ministry of Public Health, is also excited about the opportunities this technology can offer to raise awareness of critical health issues. “We know that providing advice on Florence’s key health topics, including mental health, nutrition and tobacco cessation is an important tool in our commitment to support people to make healthy lifestyle choices,” he adds.
WHO calls Florence 2.0 the “world’s most extensive freely accessible AI health worker.”
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and health
The digital health worker is a prominent feature of the Sport For Health partnership between WHO and the Qatar Ministry of Public Health, which has been established to help make this year’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 a beacon for health and safety.
Florence was developed by Soul Machines – a company that makes avatars and digital characters. They created an empathetic chatbot that understands the questions and provides information based on scientific facts. Florence responds in real time, providing users with an emotionally engaging experience.
We tried it out to see how it works. After accepting WHO privacy terms, Florence introduces herself, saying that human health is her specialty and that she wants everybody can live a healthier life. Then you can choose one of the topics: tobacco products, healthy living, COVID-19 vaccines, and mental health. Florence can be navigated with voice and a menu on the screen. The topics covered by the chatbot are minimal. However, it was fun to get advice on quitting smoking. The chatbot asks some questions first and then prepares an individual plan, showing links to online sources, like for example tobacco quitting app by WHO.
The chatbot is available for everyone here.