Leumit Start Director: Israel at the forefront of the healthcare technology revolution

The medical world is in the midst of a technological revolution, according to Izhar Laufer, director of innovation and digital health at Leumit Health Services, and Israel may be at the forefront.

On Wednesday, Leumit Start, the innovation arm of the health fund, will host a special half-day workshop on some of the new innovations being developed to improve patient care. Speakers and panelists will also discuss how technology can be used to make healthcare more efficient.

Laufer said Israel is in a unique position because it has more than 20 years of electronic medical records – patient data that can be anonymized and then used by entrepreneurs and innovators through dedicated and approved clinical trials.

Leumit, he said, is working closely with a number of startups that are poised to change the way the fund does business.

Take, for example, the medical grade artificial intelligence classification and clinical prediction platform developed by Diagnostic Robotics.

“Let’s say it’s 10 pm and a person is not feeling well and is trying to decide if they need to go to the emergency department,” Laufer described. The platform incorporates a natural and easy-to-use medical questionnaire within the Leumit application. The person answers the questions and it becomes a short, natural language summary that can be quickly read and understood by a physician.

“The doctor reads it and quickly determines if we are talking about an urgent situation and can tell the patient what to do,” Laufer described.

The system has been tested and is already being used by several Leumit patients. Over time, he said, it will also allow automatic referrals to the emergency room.

Another example is the use of Gyntools, an innovative microscopy-based diagnostic tool that can help doctors diagnose the reason for vaginal inflammation that presents with discharge, itching, or pain in real time.

The microscope is about the size of an espresso machine. The doctor takes a swab from the woman and presents the sample and should have a diagnosis within five minutes.

Leumit Health Care Services mobile coronavirus vaccination unit. (credit: courtesy)

Today, according to Laufer, women are often treated with trial-and-error creams and medications, while doctors sometimes wait days for news from the lab.

Leumit currently has Gyntools in four offices.

And these are just a taste of what will be explored at the fund’s first innovation conference on Wednesday and what Leumit Start is working on.

“Leumit Start brings together startups and health fund researchers so that we can improve the health of patients,” Laufer emphasized, “and so that we can develop innovation within the health fund for the future.”

He said that in 10 years the technology of today will make the medicine of tomorrow look different. Treatments will be more proactive, he said, and automation will help tell doctors who to prioritize in real time and allow them to treat patients faster.

“The amount of doctors to patients is decreasing,” Laufer said. “We need to find a way to make sure that each doctor can work with more patients and still provide optimal care.”

According to Laufer, technology will be a big part of the solution.


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