Versus Arthritis

Using AI to provide the right support at the right time

Versus Arthritis is on a mission, not just to support the 17.8 million people in the UK with musculoskeletal conditions, but to eradicate the impact, pain and isolation many living with these conditions face.

As a large-scale charity with several important branches, they work with researchers and healthcare professionals to develop groundbreaking treatments, campaign for priority care and offer tailored support to those who need it most.

Reading that, you might not think they could benefit from AI, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The third sector could stand to benefit hugely from exploring what new technology could offer to them - Versus Arthritis has, and they’re most definitely more relevant and resilient for it.

The Challenge:

Versus Arthritis has been in existence in some form since the 1930s, but it has always had its eyes focused firmly on the future. It was one of the first charities to introduce support powered by AI with the Arthritis Virtual Assistant (AVA), a brilliant tool built by our industry peers, Filament

AVA enables website users to access professional, tailored support. But since its creation in 2017, Versus Arthritis knew the possibilities with this technology had grown hugely. The team now wanted open access to their service users more so than ever; accommodating different needs and multiple conversation channels.

Using our expert Microsoft knowledge, we partnered with Filament to work on this important next step.

The Action:

AVA had the basic functionality to set up conversation loops. A user could talk through a specific subject like ‘medication’ and cycle through conversation flows, directing them to the right resources.

As a next step, Versus Arthritis wanted service users to be able to make an appointment to speak to a helpline agent. The goal was to present appointment options to the service user, allowing them to talk through their problems at a time convenient to them and give them access to the right resources tailored to their needs.

The Razor team began with a feasibility study into which calendar-booking solution would be most appropriate to use. We weighed up the solutions using a pugh matrix and criteria scoring to assess the options. Three solutions were evaluated, and our team settled on Microsoft Bookings, but we weren’t out of the discovery phase there.

As a BETA solution, Microsoft Bookings APIs presented some challenges; there were gaps in the functionality which our team had to manage to meet all of the requirements. And the requirements list was quite complex. The API had to generate available appointment times, query those appointment times and return the user’s options, allowing them to make a booking and confirm the booking. The appointment also had to appear in the helpline agent’s calendar.

The Result:

After building a custom API to interface with Microsoft Bookings and deploying all of our Microsoft know-how, the new AVA functionality launched in February 2021.

We’re incredibly proud of this one as it was such a brilliant collaboration, with Filament handling the front-end interaction aspect and us on the Microsoft side of things.

Psst, we’re a Microsoft if this project sounds familiar, maybe we could help your organisation too.

Charlotte Dunckley

“Razor were a joy to work with. Not only were the team equipped with the necessary skills and experience, they were also willing and confident in sharing their knowledge with my colleagues and me. The project launched successfully this year, thanks in no small part to Razor’s diligence and expertise.”

Karina Brisby<> Head of Digital
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