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ThoughtWorks, a global software consultancy, in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), developed and launched an interactive digital solution to help U.S. Veterans get important questions about COVID-19 answered. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA faced an unprecedented call volume that overloaded its communication channels. In response, ThoughtWorks worked alongside the VA to quickly design, build, test and deploy a chatbot to ensure Veterans’ questions about the coronavirus and VA benefits and services were answered.

The chatbot, which was built in under a month, was implemented using Microsoft’s Health Bot Service and leveraged the CDC’s COVID-19 symptom checking flow. The bot serves as a conversational tool that can be used 24/7 to self-identify symptoms related to COVID-19 and offer resources including testing options, stimulus payments, telehealth, scheduling, prescription refills and more through interactive prompts.

“As soon as the Department of Veteran’s Affairs brought ThoughtWorks on, our teams went into overdrive to get a solution out to Veterans as soon as possible. With the number of COVID-19 cases growing by the day, it was critical to alleviate the contact centers’ call volume by allowing as many Veterans as possible to self-serve on the VA.gov website,” said Chris Murphy, chief executive officer of ThoughtWorks North America. "We're proud to say that since its implementation, the chatbot has answered the same number of queries as the call center did in half the time.”

“At the VA, our number one priority is delivering excellent customer service to our Veterans,” said Charles Worthington, chief technology officer, VA. “During this unprecedented pandemic, it has been incredible to see so many VA staff from across the agency come together and quickly deliver creative solutions to new problems. This product is a great example of the VA’s commitment to using new technologies to improve our services.”

According to Forrester Research Tech Tide: Digital Patient Engagement, Q1 2020, April 2, 2020, conversational interfaces and self-triage are among the digital patient engagement strategies that deliver the most business value and return on investment while also addressing patient pain points and improving customer experience.

The bot was created in partnership with developers and officials from the agency’s Office of Information and Technology, the Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Connected Care, the Veterans Experience Office and Microsoft.

The bot is just one example of how ThoughtWorks rapidly builds technology to drive immediate impact and value for clients. To learn more about how ThoughtWorks helps organizations solve complex problems with technology, visit ThoughtWorks.com/clients.

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