Alexandra Reeves on changing the way teens learn about health
I saw a lot of my friends were diagnosing themselves with Ebola.”
Alexandra Reeves was 17 when she decided there needs to be more accessible health information for teenagers. Her solution? A bot.
A chatbot, to be exact. During summer break before her senior year at Branksome Hall, Reeves created emoji Health, an easy-touse, relatable chatbot that helps young people learn about subjects such as mental health, epilepsy, diabetes and sexual health.
“I saw a lot of my friends were diagnosing themselves with Ebola and cancer and Lyme disease because they searched the symptoms online, and WebMD told them they were going to die in 24 hours,” Reeves says.
Both her parents are doctors, so Reeves grew up with a pretty comprehensive understanding of health care.
“I’ve just had this relentless passion to drive change in health care using technology,” says Reeves. “I was looking to use technology to solve problems.”
Her idea to make the chatbot teen-friendly came from the type of information that she saw was available — and what wasn’t.
“Online, it’s a lot of white pages with black text. So I was really excited by the idea of chatbots to bring a conversational, teenage voice to health care, which is something so lacking when you look at health-care resources,” Reeves says.
She worked in an accelerator for high school students called Quarter Zero where her bot evolved into its current form on Facebook Messenger, where it now has more than 50,000 subscribers.
This past summer, she had 22 high school students as summer interns working on emoji Health’s content and technology development under the mentorship of the conversation Health team.
Conversation Health is the parent company of emoji Health.
The bot clearly reflects teenage involvement. It regularly sends gifs and memes, and the tone of the conversation is a little friendlier and up to date with teenage slang.
“Using those fun things helps engage the user in the serious nature of the material,” Reeves says.
Conversation Health is now working with 10 global pharmaceutical companies to build text and voice bots for patient and physician education.
The company also works with nurses, pharmacists and doctors to ensure information is accurate and reliable for users. Reeves says being a young person in the technology and health industry has only been an advantage.
“We know how we’re using technology, which is how adults will be using it in three years.”
Reeves is excited to see how they can expand conversation Health further.
“We want to change health care from this episodic thing where you see your doctor every three months. With the chatbot, you’re having the conversation on your own terms for your own benefit,” she says.
Reeves started emojiHEALTH while attending Branksome Hall