A digital assistant platform developed by Deakin University to support its students has secured its first commercial role at Allianz Australia.
The personal and corporate insurance provider is piloting the technology on a cohort of compensation claimants working for Allianz Australia clients; Sydney Water, the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, TAFE NSW and a fourth unnamed NSW government agency.
Accessed via an iOS and Android compatible smartphone app, Claims Companion by Genie helps injured workers navigate their compensation claim – when they should expect letters, how to accept treatment, recovery tools and other resources.
At present the Genie virtual assistant chiefly serves in an “after claim care” role, but in future phases will allow users to interact more with their individual claim, for example being able to ask, ‘When is my next medical appointment?’ or ‘Has this treatment been approved?’.
“We are always looking at ways to better support workers in their recovery journey. Genie’s an easily accessible tool that puts workers in control of their recovery whilst also providing them with the right level of support, care and motivation as they navigate what can be a complicated claims process,” Allianz Australia general manager, government services Mark Pittman told CIO Australia.
Genie was developed by the Deakin IT Group and rolled out to students and academics early last year. In the university setting it features a 24/7 question and answer service; the ability to clearly display coursework due dates (in response to text commands like ‘What are my deadlines?’); the day’s timetable; available learning resources; as well as student tools like assistance with referencing, library loans and holds information and an easy look-up of support staff to connect to.
There are a number of proprietary, vendor and open source technologies involved in Genie which handles handling up to 12,000 conversations daily for more than 25,000 Deakin students to ‘learn the ins and outs of life on campus’.
Speaking to CIO Australia last year, Deakin’s chief digital and information officer William Confalonieri said Genie “proactively guides students through life at Deakin”.
“Genie is personalised for each and every student, while remaining fully integrated with the university’s enterprise systems – this gives us an edge over all other smart agents in the market,” Confalonieri, who conceived the idea, said.
Alongside the university roll-out the Deakin team spun out a Genie start-up and pitched externally. They presented Genie at a pitch event at Allianz about two years ago.
“They didn’t really need to push us at all, we saw this could easily be adapted for workers comp,” Pittman said.
Allianz gave Deakin all the relevant legislation and its internal workflows, and ran a series of workshops to identify areas of the claims process workers would need help with, as well as focus groups with workers.
In the back-end of Genie an administration suite simplifies management, enabling Allianz to create contextualised conversation trees and push notifications via a drag and drop graphic user interface.
“We then had the work of building out the conversations in Genie. We had a team of case managers working with the Deakin development team to go through possible responses and next best questions and so on,” Pittman said.
Four workers are already using the app in a pilot which started last week and will run for three months.
A separate virtual assistant project is being developed by Allianz Europe who is watching Genie’s progress closely, “given we’ve got something that fits the bill here” Pittman said.
At present Claims Companion by Genie is offered after an injured worker has called Allianz, and filled in the necessary claim forms. Potentially, the whole process could be done in-app, Pittman said.
“For a simple injury it could all be done in-app. That’s what we’d like to take it too. But the digital assistant will never replace talking to a person. It’s there as an integrated part of the return to work journey for the worker,” he said.
“But if you have a really straightforward injury, why do you need to call somebody? It’s more hassle to make a phone call than interact with Genie in some cases,” Pittman added.
Additional commercial Genie customers look set to be announced by Deakin in coming months. It is applicable to a number of sectors, Deakin says, particularly health, transport and education.
“Deakin Genie has become a go-to resource for our students to ensure they’re supported, organised, and in control, and we’re excited to extend that software solution to the broader Australian public through Allianz and its customers,” said Confalonieri.
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