Case study: Quitline adopts AI solution to help smokers

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Quitting smoking isn’t an easy task, the Cancer Council of Victoria is implementing new, innovative technologies to help people butt their cigarette out once and for all.

Lindsay Whelan, manager of Quitline at the Cancer Council of Victoria speaks to Digital Nation Australia about their implementing a conversational voice AI solution to assist those looking to quit smoking.

Whelan said the Cancer Council of Victoria was approached by VicHealth to find innovative ways for their Quitline.

“It's predominantly a research-based support for smokers who are wanting support with quitting with the counselling service that we provide. But VicHealth being one of our major funders for Quit itself, wanted to see if there was any sort of digital innovations that we could somehow use or adopt within the service itself,” he said.

Quitline partnered with AI-based software Curious Thing, to help create a survey that created more open-ended answers.
“One of the key measures we're focused on was looking at the completion rates, how many people could complete a survey. We're in a predicament where if we call someone and they say they're not smoking, that's fine,” Whelan said.

“But if we don't get a hold of them, the assumption is, from a valuation perspective that they've potentially gone back to smoking or still smoking, it's challenging.”

Whelan said the completions rates are important in understanding whether the technology is worth the investment and having two projects both URL and SMS running parallel to see which provides the best response rates.

A concern was that the calls would be considered spam, so Whelan said Quitline set up the actual process flow to alleviate that as much as possible.

“It starts off with an SMS explaining that they're going to receive a call from a digital health. The idea is that the SMS sort of preamps that this is what's going to take place. If they've got any concerns, they can call us on our standard number,” he said.

Whelan noted saying if a caller is concerned about there being spam the AI will pick up on that and say this is from the Quitline number.

He said this AI has given them a bigger audience and engagement with callers.

“There are greater possibilities now understanding that the technology and how it can work and how intuitive it actually is. We'll be doing a lot more thinking around other ways that we can incorporate it not just using it for reengagement, but also other aspects of the business as well,” he ended.

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