Dubai: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has introduced a service that allows the community to book an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine at DHA facilities through WhatsApp.
The pioneering move to launch the DHA WhatsApp hotline, which utilises Artificial Intelligence to facilitate the booking of appointments, is in line with the Authority’s vision to adopt advanced technologies in the healthcare sector across all aspects from customer service to hospital management and health service delivery, to further enhance productivity, patient convenience and care.
Dubai Media Office announced on Monday that the automated chatbot application is a free 24/7 service, initially developed to raise awareness among the public and provide them with accurate information about COVID-19 as well as other DHA services. The service was introduced in line with the Authority’s efforts to provide community members with an option to have a 24/7 communication channel available in multiple languages.
More than 150,000 COVID-19 queries were addressed through Whatsapp, the messaging service owned by Facebook, since DHA and Facebook began providing the hotline service.
How to book
To access the 24/7 WhatsApp hotline, users will have to add 800 342 to their contacts and send “Hi” on WhatsApp. To book for the COVID-19 vaccine appointment, users should submit their Medical Record Number (MRN), which is a prerequisite to access the service.
The public can then select the vaccination centre and the appointment date and time as per their convenience. The AI-enabled system will provide the earliest appointment options in the selected centre. Users will then receive a confirmation message with the name of the centre, date and timing of their appointment.
Fatma Al Khajah, Director of the Customer Happiness Department at DHA said: “Through the use of AI technology and this additional channel to book an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, we aim to provide community members with the utmost convenience. The new service will further bolster our vaccination drive.”
Al Khajah added that the new system operates round-the-clock and provides customers the opportunity to instantly book an appointment as per their convenience.
Ramez Shehadi, Managing Director for Facebook MENA, said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been important more than ever before to connect the public with official sources of accurate health information. We are pleased to be able to partner with the DHA to help provide the community in Dubai with a quick and simple way to book their essential vaccines via WhatsApp.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, WhatsApp has partnered with more than 150 national, state, and local governments as well as organisations like WHO and UNICEF, on COVID-19 helplines to connect its two billion users to accurate information and resources. Over three billion messages have been sent across these global helplines in the past year.
Facebook also introduced the Coronavirus Information Center on top of user’s News Feeds to provide a central place for people to get the latest news on the pandemic. More than two billion people worldwide have been directed to the Coronavirus Information Center and provided with the latest information from health experts and health authorities as well as credible sources to learn more about the virus. Since launching in mid-March, more than 37 million people have visited the Coronavirus Information Center on Instagram.
The DHA has so far been providing the public with the option of booking through the DHA’s app. Customers 60 years and above can call the DHA’s helpline number 800 342 to book an appointment.