January 24, 2022 1:23 pm

The ‘virtual caregiver’ who monitors the patient at home




Elderly people with health problems, patients who have just been discharged after an operation or have overcome the Covid, chronically ill … all of them have in the technology of Tucuvi an ally to feel more accompanied and cared for at home. This Madrid startup has developed a platform based on artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing that monitor patients at home via phone calls, without the need for Wi-Fi or installing any mobile application. Lola, as the virtual ‘caregiver’ is called, automatically contacts individuals with the frequency established in the protocols –It is capable of making thousands of calls a day– and sends the structured information to the clinical team so that they know who needs attention.

The advantage for patients, as explained Maria Gonzalez, CEO of the firm, is that “they are better cared for”, while the professionals «Optimize their time and plan their care work better since they do not base their activity on a predefined agenda, but on what their patients really need. This has repercussions in a greater efficiency of the health system ”, he reflects.

The company’s solution is already used by hospitals, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. “We are a software as a medical device, which means that to operate we must have a license granted by the Spanish Medicines Agency. Without it, we could do pilots, proofs of concept and validation, but since we obtained it, last June, we can act as a service and start working with public administrations or other types of entities ”, says this biomedical engineer from barely 26 years that, after having worked in a multinational medical device company, founded the company in September 2019 together with Marcos Rubio, a career partner who had experience in digital health startups. “We saw that there were ‘gaps’ in certain processes and that the technology was not entirely accessible to the elderly,” says González, recalling the causes that led them to undertake the project.

Greater commitment

They started out with a focus on the senior audience. “On the one hand, the virtual assistant works by voice and is very easy for them to use and, on the other hand, before they did not have access to digital health if they lacked a ‘smartphone’ or did not know how to use an application,” he justifies. However, in the wake of the pandemic they realized that their proposal was also useful for young people. «When you have to enter a series of data in an app it can be forgotten, but when receiving a call the commitment rate –They always answer and fill in everything– is more than 92%», Highlights González. He gives as an example the home monitoring of those who have undergone surgery. «For seven days, Lola calls them to see how they are, how the wound is progressing, if they have had pain, etc. The doctor receives the information and can adjust the medication on the spot.

The team of the Madrid startup Tucuvi, founded in September 2019
The team of the Madrid startup Tucuvi, founded in September 2019 – José Ramón Ladra

Tucuvi has closed agreements with different Spanish hospitals, such as La Princesa, which has incorporated its virtual caregiver into the follow-up at home of patients discharged by Covid, or the Torrejón University Hospital that applies its technology in a pilot project with coronavirus patients and those diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). González highlights that one of the most beautiful alliances is the one they carry out with palliative patients at Hospital del Vinalopó. “One of the challenges was to transmit the affection of the nursing team through AI. Yes or yes we had to achieve that empathy and it is going very well ». The initiative, in fact, was recognized with the E-nnova Health 2021 award in the category of Digital Empowerment of the Patient.

Previously, Tucuvi had won the EntrepreneurXXI Awards in Madrid, promoted by CaixaBank. The startup, made up of nine workers, offers its service nationwide and made the leap to Portugal two months ago. Between loans and private investment, it has raised almost half a million euros to date. Its short-term objectives are to expand in both markets and continue to exploit the potential that artificial intelligence has to ‘monitor’ our health.

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