New York, NY — Planned Parenthood is thrilled to announce the launch of Roo, our new sexual health chatbot. The first tool of its kind, Roo is designed to help young people visiting PlannedParenthood.org get personalized information instantly — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Planned Parenthood partnered with the experts at Work & Co to develop the chatbot, which is available at Roo.PlannedParenthood.org.
Young people can ask Roo their burning questions about their health, their body, relationships, getting care at Planned Parenthood, or choose from a list of questions, to get the answers they need within seconds, day or night. The chatbot is designed for 13- to 17-year-olds, but can be used by anyone who has questions about sexual and reproductive health. As more users interact with Roo, the chatbot will continue to evolve and be able to answer even more questions on more topics. And users can be connected to additional resources, including live educators via Planned Parenthood’s Chat/Text program, as needed.
As a physician, I know the importance of meeting people where they are with the information and care they need. At Planned Parenthood, we want to make it as easy as possible to get everyone the education and health care they need, when they need it, no matter what method of communication works best for them,” said Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Developed together with teens, our new one-of-a-kind chatbot is another way Planned Parenthood is expanding ways of delivering personalized, immediate, and accurate information to young people. No matter where you are, Planned Parenthood is here to provide you with evidence-based, judgement-free information.
Chatbot technology has long been used for customer service or streamlining transactions. In developing Roo, Planned Parenthood wanted to find out if the same technology can be used for a unique purpose: to get young people personalized answers to their questions on topics that are often stigmatized. Planned Parenthood knows that young people need developmentally appropriate and accurate information about relationships, their bodies, and sex, without feeling shamed or judged for their curiosity — and research has shown that chatbot technology can lower users’ fears and increase their willingness to disclose personal information.
Brands and nonprofits have only scratched the surface of what AI can do,” said Gene Liebel, co-founder at tech and design firm Work & Co, which also works with Apple, Lyft and Epic Games. “Helping teens access trusted information --especially since so many young people aren’t getting the sexual health education they need-- makes this a rare sort of digital product.
To create Roo, Planned Parenthood listened to what teens said they want and need, and looked at their habits online. Work & Co turned to teens at MESA (Math Engineering Science Academy) High School in Bushwick to help develop and test Roo, and provide feedback on what they’re looking for when it comes to sexual health information online. Texting and instant messaging are the most common reasons young people are on their phones, so a chatbot is an ideal tool when it comes to delivering fast, personalized information.
We know that many young people are nervous or embarrassed to ask questions about their sexual health. They often go online to get information and ask their questions anonymously. It’s important that our youth receive a reliable answer they can trust,” Dr. Wen added. “As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood believes all young people have the right to the evidence-based information and skills they need to protect their health and plan their futures — and we’re excited for Roo to be a credible, approachable resource to get the personalized answers they need.
Roo is the most recent addition to Planned Parenthood’s connected digital ecosystem. No matter how you connect with Planned Parenthood — in a health center, in a classroom, or on your phone or laptop — we’re making it as easy as possible for you to get the information and care you need.
As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood provides accurate, nonjudgmental information on our Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages, and Planned Parenthood websites in English and Spanish receive more than 100 million visits a year. We also provide sex education programs and outreach to 1.5 million people in schools and communities across the country every year.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.