Introducing Emily — the chatbot that talks about end-of-life.

Haje Jan Kamps
Jun 20, 2017 · 3 min read

Today, we introduce Emily™, a chatbot that addresses a huge challenge: Getting people to plan for end of life. It’s the most important conversation you’ve never had. Until now.

Nothing unites human beings as much as the inevitability of death, and yet, more than 80% of Americans haven’t planned for what they want at the end of their lives. That’s the problem we at LifeFolder are trying to solve with our free Messenger bot, Emily. The bot outlines and explains the decisions a user has to make and helps people complete the relevant legal paperwork to prepare for end of life.

Creating crucial documents

The bot assists in the creation of three very important documents. The first is a Health Proxy nomination. This is a document that selects who you want to speak for you in case you are unconscious or otherwise unable to make your wishes known. Second is a set of priorities and wishes, set out in an Advance Directive: It outlines what you do and don’t want from your health care. Finally, an organ donation statement to opt in or out of organ and tissue donation. For each of these documents, Emily talks customers through the pros and cons, and helps make these very difficult conversations easier.

Not just for the old and the sick, we are encouraging healthy people to start thinking about their wishes and priorities, too, pointing out that unexpected health complications or accidents can happen quickly. The emotional and financial cost of being ill-prepared can be tremendous. If someone slips into a coma after an accident, for example, the power to make decisions falls to close family members. Not ideal, if the victim of the accident has never made their wishes and priorities for quality of life clear to their family members.

Breaking a taboo

Death is taboo for many, and it is not an easy conversation to have, but that’s what Emily is trying to address. Research indicates that people are curious and willing to research and discuss the topic in private. Emily is designed to prepare the documents to help people plan. Once the bot has helped with the legal documentation, she will help customers talk about their choices with their friends and loved ones.

A conversation with Emily mirrors a conversation you would have with a trained nurse. If you are very well informed about the topics involved, you can skip through sections of the conversation quickly. If you are less well-versed in the world of life support, organ donation and related topics, you can dig as deep into each subject as you like. Emily has all the knowledge, but the pace of the conversation is up to you. That’s literally true, too: Ask Emily to type faster, and she’ll do some finger-stretching exercises and increase her typing speed.

Available in a number of US states.

At launch, Emily is aimed at 25 to 45-year-olds who are in relatively good health. Further down the line, we are planning to create versions of the conversation that apply to older people, and customers who are dealing with chronic or terminal illnesses.

At launch, we were available in 5 states — today, we are available in many more. Check out our FAQ page to see which states are supported.

In states or countries that are not yet supported, Emily will take you through the conversation and supply a discussion guide that can be used to help start the conversation with friends and family and make your wishes clear. We are in the middle of a rapid roll-out, aiming to be supported in all 50 states in the next few months.

In the future, we are planning to leverage our technology platform to launch additional chatbot-based services, such as wills and funeral planning services. The new services will likely be paid-for services. Our end of life planning service will continue to be free, and is available today.


Exploring conversations about hard conversations.

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