AI Helps Telehealth Providers Dig Deep Into Patients’ Real Needs


AI Helps Telehealth Providers Dig Deep Into Patients’ Real Needs

By Sara Miller, NoCamels -

Who is the person at the end of the phone or on the other side of the screen when we use remote healthcare – and can they get a true image of our medical needs and experiences?

Most of the time the care manager is a trained nurse or other medical professional, says Yoni Shtein, CEO of Laguna Health, whose AI platform records and analyzes the conversations during telehealth consultations for social, emotional and cultural context.

This technology, Shtein tells NoCamels, is designed to help the care manager to understand the true needs of a patient, avoiding potentially serious health issues without having to worry about making a note of every piece of information during a consultation.

“The core problem we’re solving is one of recovery,” he explains. “We’re able to solve [avoidable hospitalization] through a holistic model, in understanding that actually what gets people in trouble is what we now call individual determinants of health – some of those individual issues that ultimately get in the way of clinical adherence.”

Shtein says that the sheer number of people who consult remotely with a care manager means that it is impossible for the latter to really get a well-rounded picture of the issues presented in each individual case.

“The majority of them are nurses who want to help people,” he says.

“If they had one person to help per day, they would be the most sympathetic, attentive and effective in the job. Except as you might imagine, they have hundreds of caseloads per day, which means they have scripts and workflows and care management platforms, and they’re spread thin like butter.”

Indeed, remote healthcare has become a staple for many people, with both patients and practitioners taking advantage of technology to access and provide diagnosis and treatment – obviously within the constraints posed by remote care.

Telemedicine really began to take off during the coronavirus pandemic, when people largely confined to their homes increasingly turned to technology for solutions – especially with so many medical centers, hospitals and clinics strictly out of bounds.

According to global data platform Statista, the number of people using online medical consultations worldwide has roughly doubled in the past five years, from around 57 million in 2019 to 116 million today. And that number is only expected to rise (albeit at a slower rate than at the height of the pandemic that lasted from 2020-2023).

But keeping track of everyone and everything can be a herculean task when consultations are in quick succession and targets have to be met.

Therefore, Laguna Health’s platform performs several “really important” tasks as part of the contact between care manager and patient.

Firstly, it automates note taking so that the care manager can both focus on what is being said during the conversation and save precious time afterwards, allowing them to help a greater number of patients.

“It’s not only distracting [to take notes] during the call, it takes an additional 100 percent of your time following the call to write all the notes for everything that took place,” Shtein points out.

Secondly, the system uses a specially built AI large language model (LLM) in order to analyze the conversation in real time. LLMs are artificial intelligence systems that are trained to both understand and generate language through the input of extremely large amounts of data.

The AI pulls out what Shtein calls “care insights,” offering a greater understanding of the patient’s needs based on pieces of information revealed during the conversation.

Shtein gives the example of a patient who tells the care manager that they are having trouble collecting their medication due to a lack of transportation. The system would pick out that snippet and highlight the need for a transportation service, which some healthcare companies do provide.

“We’re able to do all of that in real time,” Shtein says, “which drives dramatically higher efficiency of care and effectiveness of outcome.”

In fact, Shtein and Laguna co-founder and CPO Yael Peled Adam, both veterans of the tech sector, created the company after both having experienced the challenges of recovery after hospitalization, either themselves or through loved ones.

“The goal is clinical compliance,” Shtein says. “The way you get better is actually by adhering to the clinical workflow. What we understood is actually a lot of the barriers – 75 percent of them in fact – have more to do with your individual life situation than to the clinical set of instructions.”

The technology is built to be easily integrated into existing cloud-based healthcare systems, something which Shtein says is by now almost universal. And for the care manager, it is a simple browser extension that he says is easy to install and operate.

The platform is designed primarily to cater to the market in the US, where there is no universal healthcare to automatically provide everyone with access to medical treatment, leaving individuals instead to find their private coverage.

And it is these private companies that Laguna works with, as their healthcare professionals – and not those working for medical centers – are the first point of contact in telemedicine calls.

In fact, while the R&D side of the company is entirely based in Israel (Laguna’s headquarters are in Tel Aviv), the marketing side of the business is situated in the US.

The company is planning to expand to other countries, including South Africa and Brazil, and Shtein says the technology is designed to work with “a wide gamut” of languages, accents and dialects.

He explains that the conversation between care manager and patient is automatically transcribed, and once it is in text form, it does not matter which language is spoken because the system can understand it.

“That transcription capability is at this point in the 2020s a very well built-out muscle in the world as a whole,” he says.

The basic goal, Shtein asserts, is to help people abide by the care they have been prescribed, while taking into account their individual needs and challenges.

“The way to go is to help people be the best version of themselves,” he says, “leaning into their diverse care models and helping them deliver those care models most efficiently.”


More News