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AstraZeneca, Vall d'Hebron, and Tucuvi launch the AZerca project to follow up on patients with heart failure

AZerca project evaluates the feasibility of implementing LOLA, an AI-based virtual medical assistant with conversational technology that provides personalized tracking to patients suffering from heart failure.

AZerca project evaluates the feasibility of implementing LOLA, an AI-based virtual medical assistant with conversational technology that provides personalized tracking to patients suffering from heart failure.

The project evaluates the feasibility of implementing LOLA, an AI-based virtual medical assistant with conversational technology that provides personalized tracking to patients suffering from heart failure. 

Heart failure is a chronic disease that affects 2.34% of the adult Spanish population1 and involves different medical specialties (cardiologists, internists, family physicians) due to the different patient profiles.

Madrid, April 27, 2023-. AstraZeneca, in collaboration with the Cardiology Department of the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, and Tucuvi have presented AZerca, a program that enables personalized follow-up of patients with congestive heart failure (HF) using artificial intelligence and conversational technology. It is expected that this follow-up strategy will allow healthcare professionals to achieve better control of patients, reducing the need for hospital care, which will in turn result in an optimization of resources and an improvement in patients' quality of life. 

Patients are contacted on the telephone by the virtual medical voice assistant, called LOLA, to collect information about their health status on a schedule established by the clinical team. The collected data is automatically analyzed and structured on the Tucuvi Health Manager platform and then reviewed by the specialized nursing team, prioritizing preconfigured alerts that allow focusing attention on those patients with a higher risk of decompensation or changes in their usual clinical condition. This complements the work of healthcare professionals, as it allows them to follow up patients in a more frequent, close, and personalized way, which translates into greater adherence to treatment and improved self-care, being able to anticipate possible decompensations that could lead to a worsening of the disease.

This program will involve the participation of around 90 patients from the Heart Failure Unit of the Cardiology Department of the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona who have a diagnosis of heart failure based on the criteria of the European Guidelines on Heart Failure of 20212. The follow-up program will last between 6 and 12 months and aims at evaluating the feasibility of implementing the tool in the Cardiology Department of the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and to analyze the improvements that it could bring to the unit.

AZerca project team members

According to Dr. Aleix Olivella, assistant physician of the Cardiology Service of the Vall d'Hebron Hospital and researcher of the Cardiovascular Diseases group of the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), “new technologies based on artificial intelligence can help us face the great healthcare challenge posed by chronic diseases such as heart failure, whose prevalence is constantly increasing and is the leading cause of hospitalization in patients over 65 years of age, with a very marked impact on quality of life. In this very common disease, all patients, by definition, have a high risk of decompensation, making their follow-up very complex and with a high demand for care”. With regard to LOLA, he adds, "We hope that it will allow us to maintain closer contact with all patients, being able to focus our attention on those who need it the most at any given moment without neglecting other more stable patients, thus maximizing the efficiency of resource use and achieving better support for patients with heart failure". Dr. Olivella is also coordinator of the Servei de Cardiologia de l'Hospital Sant Rafael.

Developed by the Spanish company Tucuvi, LOLA is an AI voice-based virtual medical assistant that enables continuous and personal follow-up of each patient through autonomous phone calls. With more than 60,000 patients served, LOLA helps hospitals ensure that patients receive continuous, high-quality care while maintaining an essential human touch. In some cases, they have contributed to reducing hospital stays by 26% and the 30-day readmission rate by more than 50%. In the words of María González Manso, CEO and co-founder of Tucuvi: "LOLA's goal is to increase the capabilities of healthcare professionals to be able to offer the best care to their patients and anticipate complications. In the case of heart failure, maintaining continuity of care and anticipating decompensation is crucial for the patient's quality of life. We are very pleased to work with leading HF professionals and industry to improve the efficiency and support of HF patients by implementing LOLA's AI."

"We help to optimize the tools of the healthcare system, providing innovative solutions that support healthcare professionals, thus contributing to improving patients' day-to-day lives," notes Dr. César Velasco, Director of Innovation and Digital Strategy at AstraZeneca Spain. "To this end, AstraZeneca collaborates with entities in the innovation ecosystem that are committed to driving the development of digital health solutions. These solutions allow us to improve the quality of life of millions of people suffering from chronic diseases such as heart failure through collaboration with the entrepreneurial ecosystem, healthcare centers, the healthcare system, patients, and healthcare professionals."

References

1. Escobar C, Palacios B, Varela L, Gutiérrez M, Duong M, Chen H, Justo N, Cid-Ruzafa J, Hernández I, Hunt PR and Juan F. Delgado. Prevalence, Characteristics, Management and Outcomes of Patients with Heart Failure with Preserved, Mildly Reduced, and Reduced Ejection Fraction in Spain. J. Clin. Med. 2022; 11:5199. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11175199

2. European Heart Journal, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehab368 Published: 27 August 2021

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