In Israel, land of medical technology companies, the covid-19 pandemic has favored the development of telemedicine and the emergence of start-ups working on connected medical devices.
“Our AI-powered technology can identify life-threatening conditions during hospital scans in minutes and can quickly alert care teams. in case of suspected stroke.” Viz.ai co-founder and chief technical officer (CTO), David Golan passionately explains how the device he created, the first-ever triage system, works powered by artificial intelligence already FDA approved for stroke with large vessel occlusion.
“The software, which is connected to hospital scanners, can notify stroke specialists within minutes, sending the X-ray images directly on their mobile phonewhere they can be viewed in an app,” continues the youthful-looking Israeli entrepreneur. Practitioners can then provide patients with the right level of care as quickly as possible, when time is at a premium. David Golan speaks with knowledge reason: he himself suffered a stroke which had left him unable to speak and move an arm and a leg for some time.
The Viz.ai system is already used in more than 1,100 hospitals worldwide. Last year, the company expanded its diagnostic capabilities to pulmonary embolisms and brain aneurysms. The development of the company, which is based in Tel Aviv and San Francisco, has been as impressive as it is rapid: David Golan created it in 2016 with neurosurgeon Chris Mansi. After a new raising of 100 million dollarsViz.ai claims Unicorn status today, with a valuation of $1.2 billion.
Behind Viz.ai and other companies that have already successfully expanded, a multitude of nuggets are crowding the gate: there are nearly 1,700 life science companies in Israel – a figure that increases by 150 units every year -, most of which are active in digital health and medical devices. The Jewish state, where medical research has historically always benefited from technology transfers of military origin, is on the other hand less present in biopharmaceuticals. “We do not produce vaccines,” admits Dr. Asher Shalmon, director of the department of international relations at the Ministry of Health. “But on the other hand, our work in the field of digital health is highly sought after by the international community. Healthcare systems around the world are looking to integrate the new technologies found in Israel.”
“Our work in digital health is highly sought after by the international community.”
After having been for 20 years at the forefront of innovation in the development of imaging systems, surgical lasers or innovative software, Israeli medical technology companies continue to revolutionize the field of care and health now relying on artificial intelligence, big data and advances in connectivity.
At the heart of this technological proliferation, a major trend is taking shape: telemedicine.
At the heart of this technological proliferation, a major trend is taking shape: telemedicine. Because the Covid-19 crisis has increased interest in systems that allow healthcare providers to work just as effectively remotely and maintain the link with patients thanks to wearable technologies. This also generates significant savings. In Israel, telemedicine is becoming the new paradigm in health care. A movement that is not likely to stop. According to some specialists, the global telehealth market will explode and is expected to expand at an annual growth rate of over 30% in the coming years.
Like the company created by David Golan, many Israeli companies work on technologies for remote monitoring and prognosis, and even home care. Pulsenmore thus offers a portable prenatal device making it possible to carry out remote fetal ultrasounds with a portable ultrasound device that connects to a regular smartphone. The patient, who is in contact with a doctor, handles the device herself, following the instructions of the practitioner, who is in the hospital.
If this tele-ultrasound device does not have the same quality as a professional device in a hospital environment, “it helps to limit the number of unnecessary visits to the hospital and to the doctor”, explains Mira Altmark Sofer, the company’s marketing manager. The product, which was launched in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, has already been adopted by Clalit Health Services, the largest of the four health service organizations in Israel. It also and above all attracted the attention of the American giant GE Healthcare, which has reached an agreement to invest up to $50 million in the Israeli start-up.
Large international groups have always loved Israeli technological nuggets in the health sector.
Historically, the major international groups love Israeli technological nuggets in the health sector. The Irish-American company Medtronic has come to shop in the “Start-up Nation” on several occasions and in recent years has acquired Mazor Robotics, a company developing robotic guidance systems for spinal surgery. – a takeover at 1.6 billion dollars, a record -, as well as on Visionsense, which has created a 3D tool helping doctors to visualize tumors. Before that, by taking over the Irish group Covidien, Medtronic had already inherited the flagship Given Imaging and his famous camera pill.
A “hospital at home”
For its part, the company Biobeat has become world leader in remote monitoring solutions patients. The start-up has developed a non-invasive device to take readings such as blood pressure, respiratory rate or blood oxygen saturation. The system, which has already received CE marking and FDA approval, is based on a watch or a patch that connect to the cloud either via a smartphone or via a dedicated gateway. More than a dozen parameters are already included on the platform, which the company now presents as a true “hospital at home”.
Towards the creation of a super nurse
BioBeat’s technology has notably been used in the development of a continuous patient monitoring technology project carried out at the I-Medata AI center of the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. A kind of super virtual nurse combining sensors, cameras, patient medical data and artificial intelligence, which could eventually be able to simultaneously monitor several patients in different rooms.
The ARC center at Sheba Hospital, a formidable weapon
A series of the medical technology start-ups for which Israel is famous were born in the heart of the country’s largest hospital, the Sheba Medical Center, the pride of Israeli medicine. This gigantic public hospital establishment, which is regularly designated as one of the ten best hospitals in the world, has already enabled in the past, on the basis of patents, the creation of several companies in the world of life sciences, including Orgenesis, the former MaSTherCell head office in Charleroi, or even Omrix, a company started by Nyxoah founder Robert Taub, who sold it in 2008 to Johnson & Johnson.
Located in the suburbs of Tel-Aviv, the Sheba hospital, which generates a quantity phenomenal medical data and conducts numerous clinical studies, has for several years housed on its campus a high-performance incubator called ARC (accelerate, redesign, and collaborate). He has already created some seventy start-ups to his credit. ARC is also now prioritizing innovations in digital health.
This innovation center, which has fully understood the value of cooperation between the worlds of medicine, academia and entrepreneurs, is particularly open to the world and participates in countless research projects. It has also forged several partnerships with big names in pharmacy, including Janssen pharma, and formed a community facilitating the sharing of experience.
- Israeli medical technology companies have for decades been at the forefront of innovation in the development of imaging systems, surgical lasers or innovative software.
- These medtech start-ups continue to revolutionize the field of care and health now relying on artificial intelligence, big data and the progress of connectivity.
- The Covid-19 crisis has increased interest for telemedicine and systems that enable healthcare providers to work just as effectively remotely.
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In Israel, the connected medicine revolution
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