Trappes – Sacha, Sexual Health Conversational Virtual Assistant

Sasha. This is the name of the system set up by HF Prevention, operator of the Ministry of Health. A device launched last March and which allows, in particular via a chat on a mobile application, to connect any user with a conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the questions they may have about sexual health and which can be asked verbally or for signed up. “It is a brain that we have created and which actually corresponds to what a health prevention facilitator can say and reproduce”, explains Jérôme André, director of HF Prevention, who received La Gazette on the premises of the facility. , located in Trappes, on September 23rd.

HF Prévention is riding on the success of Tup, an app created in 2014 that geolocates condom outlets and STI screening locations near you. “It’s very complicated not knowing where the condoms are or having sexual health information, but [de trouver] places of projection, to know where and at what time they are,” says Jérôme André.

Tup is now used by an average of 580,000 people a month. ” When we see [ces chiffres], so we said to each other, with the public authorities, that there was a need to have more sexual health, advances Jérôme André. A roadmap was also drawn up, of which we were among the organizations consulted. With this question as a guiding thread: how to bring about sexual health at any age? “Often the media talk about young people, but we could also talk about sexual health in nursing homes or when you get older. Sexuality exists at any age, and with more or less difficult issues, underlines the director of HF Prevention. Recently, I have been reporting problems with urine leakage […], can have an impact on sexual health. »

“Consequently, there was a real need to be close to fellow citizens and to provide advice and information,” he continues. To do this, two solutions: either we have the possibility of having new credits from the state, which would mean more prevention facilitators everywhere in France – […] but why, why aren’t we going to start having so many people talking about sexual health – either digitizing the brain of a prevention facilitator and a health mediator, but also bringing on demand […]in everyone’s pocket [de] Conversational AI. »

Six months after launch, success was already there for Sacha, with an average of 68,000 monthly conversations, according to Jérôme André, director of HF Prevention.

This is how Sacha matured, officially launched on March 22, 2022. Six months later, the application already had an average of 68,000 monthly conversations. “I didn’t think we’d do so much from the start”, confides Jérôme André, ambitious, because “the idea is to be able to distribute it all over the world”. Especially since this device, of which HF Prevention owns the brain architecture, is unique in the world. It took four years of work. The ten employees of HF Prevention worked on it, accompanied by 200 health professionals, including psychologists, who supervised the development of the chat, taking care of “watching what is said, how it is said”, before validating the answers, Jérôme André points out. This provided ample opportunity for discussion.

“It’s a real artificial intelligence. There is no human person answering behind it, but when Sacha doesn’t know the subject, he will say ”I’m not competent in the matter, I found this on google, I suggest it”. [Au début]he knew nothing, […] everything had to be taught to him, explains the director of HF Prevention. [Mais] he is able to teach himself which was a real problem for us. For example, if we say “I think I’m pregnant”, if we allow it, it connects to Google, [et] 10 or 15 minutes later she explains what it means to be pregnant, what you risk, the morning after pill, etc. […] We limited it to sexual health and what we want to address. Sacha is also able to track emotions, indicates Jérôme André, remaining discreet on the cost of the device, funded up to about 10% by the Gilead laboratory, while other partners such as Publicis and Google have also supported the project.

This conversational AI is therefore already available via a smartphone application, but also on Google home, and a website is planned for the end of the year. Before the service is extended next year to include mental health and breast cancer. And the applications will be interconnected. “The idea is that it helps as many people as possible,” concludes Jérôme André.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *