Leading a hospital in the provision of excellent medical care is one thing, guiding staff towards cutting-edge research and medical innovations is another, and utilizing technology for the benefit of patients is yet another. Bringing the three together under one visionary roof is our life and the focus of my role as the director general of Rambam Health Care Campus, the largest academic medical center in Northern Israel. As a practicing cardiologist, my passion for medicine is most evident when I am in the operating room working on a patient’s heart; this is where I facilitate the intertwining of medicine, technology and humanity.
The technological revolution of the last century has forged ahead at an increasing pace, revolutionizing medicine. Our ability to look inside the body at the macro-scale, down to the cells and molecules, using novel imaging modalities — expanding our understanding of the mechanisms of life and disease — has led to the development of new tools for diagnosis and therapeutics. Whether discussing a new device to open blocked arteries, a new molecule to treat cancer via a specific cellular pathway, a novel physical algorithm applied to imaging, or a genetic chip or DNA sequencing to understand the secrets of life and modify them. It all points to the technological innovation taking place in medicine.
Israel is renown worldwide as the startup nation. We quickly move from one innovation to the next, allowing others to push the new technology worldwide. Rambam Health Care Campus is part of that innovative world and represents a unique medical startup culture. Many important medical devices and therapies now used worldwide originated from our physician-scientists. Our strength rests in Rambam’s unique ecosystem that brings together the hospital’s clinical forces, top research collaborations with the Technion’s Faculty of Medicine and the surrounding industry.
The intertwining of medicine with technology takes on a whole new meaning when humanity is added to the equation. That meaning brings a message of hope for tomorrow. Whether in peace or facing conflict, the result is an incredibly unique and passionate atmosphere at Rambam that exists nowhere else in the world. I have seen this first hand during visits to prestigious medical institutions worldwide, and having served as Dean of the Faculty of the Technion’s Faculty of Medicine when Professors Hershko and Ciechanover were awarded the Nobel Prize: no other institution can compare to this great and inspirational campus where Rambam physician-scientists and Technion researchers collaborate on a daily basis.
The intertwining of medicine, technology and humanity is celebrated annually during the Rambam Summit and Rambam Awards ceremony. Last year, former president of Israel Shimon Peres received the Rambam Award for his visionary concept to use medical technology to bring peace to our region. This year, as we marked 10 years since the Second Lebanon War, the summit focused on Rambam’s journey to create the future of medicine via a unique campus that combines patient safety and security through the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital. Additionally, participants saw the loving and healing environment created for our young patients in the Ruth Rapaport Children’s Hospital, new hope for a cancer cure in the Joseph Fishman Oncology Center, and the new Cardiovascular Hospital, currently under construction. The center of this vision, currently in the planning stage, is a Biomedical Discovery Tower where research and innovation will pave the way for the future of medicine.
Today, medical discovery is undergoing a seminal change that will impact future generations—the digital health revolution. Today’s fully connected world, through multiple digital and wireless channels, is connecting modern civilization as never before. This represents a paradigm shift as we approach the medicine of tomorrow, which Professor Eric Topol, one of this year’s Rambam awardees, a cardiologist and visionary physician-scientist who leads the Scripps Institute, refers to as the digitizing and democratizing of medicine. Health care will soon be more accessible to all humankind than ever before, and major aspects of medical treatments will be managed using digital intelligent reasoning through the intertwining of the “cloud” with humanity.
This leads us to a new and novel innovation jointly founded by Rambam, Medtronic, IBM and the technology investors, Pitango, and Impact First—MindUP, a digital health incubator. The future is being created through this unique combination of a medical device company, a computer giant, and visionary Israeli investment funds, with the needs of our patients and the passion and humanity of our medical staff. The physician and philosopher Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (Rambam, the Maimonides) wrote more than 800 years ago the axiomatic concept, “there is no separation between body and mind.” MindUP will observe this axiom throughout its projected growth by founding next generation digital health companies over the next decade. Digital medicine, the focus of MindUP, draws from a broad range of technological fields and Israel excels in virtually all of them. With the nation’s exceptional technological expertise and a pool of talented human resources, the new digital medicine technological incubator is expected to produce innovations that will shape the future of medicine.
The Biomedical Discovery Tower at Rambam Health Care campus is being constructed between two hospitals, one for the heart and one for children, adjacent to the Technion’s Faculty of Medicine. This is where my childlike heart is and will forever be.
Rafi Beyar, MD, DSc, MPH, is the Director General of Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, Israel, the major academic hospital serving northern Israel. Beyar’s research and clinical interests range from mathematical simulation to imaging and analysis of the cardiovascular system, as well as the development of stents and new technologies in cardiology. He has authored over 150 scientific publications and 15 books, is the founding editor of Acute Cardiac Care Journal which is endorsed by the European Society of Cardiology, and is the organizer and founder of leading professional cardiovascular conferences. Under Beyar’s leadership, Rambam’s doctors participate in innovative clinical research projects to bring new therapies and treatments not only to their patients, but the greater medical community. In 2005, he was nominated to the prestigious Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars for his worldwide contributions to cardiovascular science and for establishing the Technion-Johns Hopkins Collaboration Program in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering. Follow Beyar on Facebook and Twitter.