The Ministry of Health and Social Services implemented an AI chatbot to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Ministry of Health and Social Services implemented an AI chatbot to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
Key Results
>2 weeks
Time needed to complete a potential solution proof of concept.
>30 days
Time needed to move the support chatbot into production.
Gradual deployment
As the chatbot improved, its deployment scope widened.
Support live agents
Leveraged artificial intelligence to support large amounts of inquiries.
Rapid platform iteration
Provided up-to-date information by improving answers over time.

AI chatbots empowering citizens during COVID-19

The global COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for governments worldwide. In Quebec, the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) faced a surge in public inquiries as citizens sought reliable and up-to-date information. To address this critical need, the MSSS turned to artificial intelligence and deployed a chatbot solution using Botpress within a remarkably short timeframe.

Information overload and citizen support

As COVID-19 cases rose in Quebec, the MSSS witnessed a significant increase in calls and inquiries from the public. Citizens approached the ministry with questions on various topics, including:

  • Symptoms and transmission of the virus
  • Preventive measures and public health guidelines
  • Testing procedures and availability
  • Government support programs and financial assistance

The existing support infrastructure, relying on human agents, faced the risk of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of inquiries. This could have resulted in delayed access to critical information for citizens and a strain on the ministry's resources.

Rapidly deploying an AI chatbot

Recognizing the urgency and need for scalability, the MSSS opted for an AI-powered chatbot solution. The key advantage of this approach lay in its ability to:

  • Handle Large Volumes: A chatbot can answer multiple inquiries simultaneously, alleviating pressure on human agents.
  • Provide 24/7 Support: Unlike human agents, a chatbot can operate continuously, ensuring information accessibility around the clock.
  • Offer Consistent Information: The chatbot can be programmed with the latest guidelines and information, guaranteeing consistent messaging to the public.

The MSSS prioritized a rapid deployment strategy. Within just 14 days, a proof-of-concept chatbot was developed, demonstrating the solution's potential to address the influx of inquiries. This rapid development cycle ensured that citizens could access vital information quickly.

From prototype to production: continuous improvement

Following the successful proof-of-concept, the MSSS team focused on refining the chatbot's capabilities within a tight timeframe. In less than 30 days, the chatbot evolved from a prototype to a production-ready solution. This rapid development was made possible through an iterative approach that emphasized:

  • Machine learning: The chatbot's AI engine was designed to learn from user interactions and improve its response accuracy over time.
  • Content Updates: The MSSS ensured the chatbot's information base remained current by continuously integrating the latest public health guidelines and policies.
  • User Feedback: Mechanisms were implemented to capture user feedback, allowing the team to identify areas for improvement and enhance the chatbot's effectiveness


Deployment strategy and user adoption

The initial deployment of the Quebec Government chatbot was strategic. The MSSS opted to introduce it on a page with lower traffic volume. This allowed the team to monitor performance, gather user feedback, and fine-tune the chatbot's capabilities in a controlled environment. As the chatbot's accuracy and user experience improved, it was progressively rolled out to high-traffic sections of the MSSS website, maximizing its reach and impact.

This data-driven approach ensured that citizens encountered a well-trained and informative chatbot, fostering trust and user adoption.

The Quebec Government chatbot emerged as a valuable tool for the MSSS in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The solution effectively addressed the surge in citizen inquiries, delivering the following key benefits:

  • Reduced Call Center Load: By deflecting a significant portion of inquiries, the chatbot alleviated pressure on human agents, enabling them to focus on more complex cases.
  • Increased Accessibility: The 24/7 availability of the chatbot ensured that citizens could access information whenever needed, regardless of time or day.
  • Enhanced Information Dissemination: The chatbot delivered consistent and up-to-date information to the public, promoting public health awareness and adherence to safety guidelines.

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