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The Virtual Assistant - Clara
Institution: The German Federal Ministry of Health and Social Security
Theme: Electronic and Mobile Government
Implementation Date: Feb 01, 2004
Summary: When the health reform came into force on January 1, 2004, there were still many questions left unanswered for German citizens.

The Federal Ministry of Health reacted to address the lack of available information: virtual assistant Clara has been online at www.die-gesundheitsreform.de since February to answer questions from citizens unsure of how the new reform will affect them and provide them with information about changes in the health system.

Visitors to the portal can engage in a dialogue with Clara about the questions of the health reform. She answers these questions in a commonly understandable manner and in real-time, exactly as in a real conversation.

Questions which cannot be answered by Clara can, upon request, be transferred directly to the citizen telephone. The dialogue then happens with a real conversation partner over a separate window opened by Clara. The user remains (always online) on the Internet.

The virtual agent is online and available to answer user questions 24 hours a day. Clara was developed to assist users with disabilities. Her responses are provided in computer-generated speech format for visually-impaired users using a screen reader. Users are provided with barrier-free accessibility as defined in the law of equality for disabled persons.
Impact: Clara has been explaining the new regulations involved in the health reform to online users. Efficiently and successfully: her rapid and comprehensive assistance significantly reduces pressure on call center staff.

To date, Clara has dealt with up to 100 concurrent queries by providing standardized responses to the most frequent user questions. She carries out up to 30,000 dialogs per month – 60 percent of which would otherwise be dealt with by call center staff.
Source: Novomind Company
Project Home URL: http://www.die-gesundheitsreform.de (only available in German)

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