Work & Co: Planned Parenthood’s chatbot Roo

Honourable Mention: Digital, Apps

Planned Parenthood has been in operation in the US as a non-profit organisation for over 100 years, providing reproductive healthcare and sexual health awareness. It launched an AI chatbot, Roo, in response to the fact that fewer than half of US states mandate sex education programmes in schools, and to address Guttmacher Institute’s findings that 43% of teen girls and 57% of teen boys in the US lack birth control information before having sex for the first time.

AI is still routinely viewed as a method for streamlining transactions or customer service, but in developing Roo, Planned Parenthood wanted to determine if AI technology could be used to give young people personalised answers to their questions on topics that are often stigmatised.

Creating a chatbot wasn’t the initial brief for the project. Work & Co landed on AI technology by co-creating with teens and partnering with students from MESA (Math, Engineering, and Science Academy Charter High School) in Brooklyn to conduct field research, test concepts, and even name the product. The students helped determine that a chatbot would meet their needs digitally and assure them the information was private.

The chatbot lives on the Planned Parenthood website and does not need to be downloaded. The design system is non-gendered and user-friendly, and the advice offered is vetted by medical experts. Using mobile messaging, it offers 24/7, anonymous advice on everything from STDs, consent, periods, and birth control.

Agency: Work & Co
Partner, Product: Gene Liebel
Partner, Design: Casey Sheehan
Group Director, Product Management: Jenny Hirsch
Group Director, Technology: Chris Alden
Director, Design: Lauren Shapiro
Associate Director Design: Sojin Ouh
Design Lead: Sang Kim
Lead Developer: Marko Stankovic
Senior Product Manager: Johan Risselborn
Senior Developers: Paula Penedo, Vojin Soskic