Tuesday, 16 October 2018 00:20

Lifetime Support Authority launches chatbot to help road trauma victims

Lifetime Support Authority launches chatbot to help road trauma victims Image courtesy of Farbentek at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Lifetime Support Authority, an organisation which oversees the provision of services to people who sustain serious injuries on the roads in South Australia, has implemented a chatbot to streamline its organisational processes.

The authority has launched the, as yet unnamed chatbot, to help oversee the provision of services to people who sustain serious injuries, such as brain injuries, spinal cord injuries including paraplegia and quadriplegia, amputations, burns and blindness, on the roads in South Australia – and ensures those eligible become part of the scheme. It then works with them to ensure they are supported in order to regain their independence and to be active members of the community, both socially and economically.

The services, delivered through the agency’s MyPlan scheme, also provide a metric to measure progress against goals, to tailor services to help meet those goals, and then to establish fresh goals to support people to progress towards their aspirations and maximise their quality of life.

LSA director, Services, Rebecca Singh, said: “About 75% of the participants in our scheme have a brain injury, and commonly with a brain injury, cognitive fatigue is predominant.

“Often LSAs service planners would schedule a two-hour meeting to gather all the information they needed for the MyPlan – but after half an hour the participant was so fatigued they struggle to continue.”

Singh said the LSA needed to somehow balance the need for patience with participants with the expectation of agency efficiency.

And at the same time it was important to remain mindful of the transition in disability services which puts greater choice and control into the hands of participants.

“Working with Microsoft partner Satalyst and Microsoft’s Cognitive Services bot framework, resident in the Azure cloud, LSA has a pilot underway with the potential to transform the process.

“Having the participant-assisted bot is about starting the process of giving them control over their planning,” said Singh.

In order to keep the participant in control of the process, but still gather the information LSA needs, Singh says a bot has been developed to allow participants to complete the World Health Organisation’s Quality of Life self-assessment.

Being cloud-based, the bot allows participants to use it when and where they want – and eventually LSA hopes to use similar technology to allow people to create their entire own MyPlan.

In this first pilot phase participants completing the Whoqol are also providing the underlying information that LSA’s service planners need to start developing their MyPlan.

“It enables the service planner to have that component of the process already completed. When they then go out to meet the participants to develop the rest of their MyPlan, they can be more targeted in the activities or the questions that they’re asking rather than having to start from scratch,” Singh said.

“And it also enables the participant to do these activities in their own time, in their own comfort, when it suits them at the pace that suits them. Pacing is quite important in brain injury.”

Which is also one reason why the bot still has no name. Singh wants participants to come up with a name for the bot, “in their own good time”.

She says the key to success so far has been keeping an open mind about how technology can be used to address particular pressure points, and also working with a service provider able to navigate both the technology and the use case with sensitivity and understanding.

“The next step will be applying this concept to the whole MyPlan process.  So that our participants can go through all the pre-assessments that we normally do – and then they themselves plan their goals, work out what services they think are going to meet their goals, and which provider they think is going to be able to provide services to meet those goals.

“Then all our service planner will be doing is going out and reviewing the MyPlan with them, making sure that there are no other opportunities that they’re missing out on that we need to add in there, and making sure it meets our legislative need in terms of providing necessary and reasonable services to our participants.

“It’ll very much put the participant genuinely at the driving seat of developing their own services and in control of their own lives.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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