Sheba Medical Center partners with startup to offer new telemedicine programme

By Leontina Postelnicu
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Credit: Sheba Medical Center

Israel’s Sheba Medical Center and Telesofia Medical, provider of personalised videos that aim to improve patient engagement, are introducing a telemedicine programme to help cancer patients talk to their doctors straight from their homes, enabling oncologists to better monitor their condition and offer support.

The initiative is starting as a pilot in the oncology department at the hospital, which is thought to be the largest one in the Middle East, with an app that hundreds of patients within the gastrointestinal oncology unit will be able to use in the coming months.

WHY IT MATTERS

“One of the biggest challenges for doctors is the absence of interaction with their patients in between visits. A lot of critical information about the patients' welfare, especially if they are taking medications, can fall through the cracks until their next visit,” said Dr Benjamin Boursi, a cancer specialist at the hospital’s clinical oncology and radiotherapy department, who helped create the programme.

“When a person who is sitting at home can actually see their doctor pop up on their cellphone screen, addressing them by their name, it creates a special relationship,” he added.

Telesofia Medical’s platform enables providers to create personalised videos for educational purposes, tailored to the specific patient’s needs, and can either be sent to patients via text or email or be embedded in patient portals or apps.

THE LARGER TREND

At the MEDinIsrael conference organised in Israel earlier this year, Eyal Zimlichman, CMO and CIO of Sheba Medical Center, explained the thinking behind the hospital’s approach to innovation.

“Many of the big medical centers are focusing internally, because they want to develop intellectual property and commercialise it. But we know so many of the brightest ideas are coming from outside,” he told delegates. “They’re coming from startup companies. And especially in an environment like Israel with so many startup companies around us, if you’re closed to those startups, if you’re closed to innovation on the outside, you’re missing a huge opportunity,” Zimlichman added.

Recently, the hospital also set up an Accelerate, Redesign, Collaborate programme, in which 20 to 30 startups take part every year, each receiving $50,000 and being offered the opportunity to pilot their technology there.

“What we’re hearing from them is what used to take us a year to do outside takes us two months inside. And for a startup company, they’re all on a burn rate, they’re all losing money, and if they could cut that down from a year to two months that would help considerably,” Zimlichman said.

ON THE RECORD

Commenting on the new partnership, Rami Cohen, CEO of Telesofia Medical, said:

“We are proud to be working with Sheba, as we share similar values. We both believe in a holistic view of patient needs, patient centricity and patient empowerment, both while in the hospital and between visits.

“We look forward to measuring the impact the new system has on the patient's quality of life and clinical outcomes.”