The October 7th attack on Israel, bringing with it many challenges for the country, prompted heightened activity among Israeli health-tech startups. Committed to addressing physical and mental harm with each line of code, these companies are playing a crucial role in bolstering national resilience during wartime. Leading an impact fund, I have observed firsthand how our Israeli health-tech portfolio companies have risen to the challenge, combatting adversity and showcasing the potential to do good in the world amid the prevailing difficulties.
As the conflict persists, the diverse challenges posed by the war have shone light on a number of specific Israeli health-tech innovations, each honing in on distinct health needs stemming from the ongoing crisis.
Treating severely wounded patients
In the conflict’s early days, as ICUs admitted scores of severely wounded individuals caught in a life-and-death struggle, the Israeli start-up EyeControl, recognized for its communication platform for temporarily locked-in patients using intuitive eye movements, made a significant choice. They shifted focus to expedite recovery for heavily sedated severe patients, with ongoing trials at Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva and Samson Assuta University Hospital in Ashdod.
EyeControl’s wearable wireless system, featuring a head unit with an earpiece and a small eye-level camera, transmits patients’ eye movements to a remote unit at the nurses’ station. Recognizing eye-opening signals during the awakening phase from anesthesia or coma, the headsets play recordings of family and friends’ familiar voices, favorite music, and orienting statements, aiming to facilitate recovery and reduce ICU delirium.
EyeControl exemplifies a targeted response to the physical toll on severely wounded patients. By focusing on expedited recovery for those in critical condition, it has not only demonstrated adaptability but has also showcased the power of technology in providing personalized care during wartime.
Managing healthcare resources efficiently
Biobeat‘s remote wearable medical device, designed to track vital medical indicators, has emerged as a critical tool for managing healthcare resources efficiently. With a capacity to aid both in-hospital and remote patient care, Biobeat addresses the increased demand for medical attention resulting from the conflict, offering a timely and practical solution.
During the pandemic, the Israeli Ministry of Health mandated the integration of Biobeat systems in hospitals for remote monitoring of quarantined COVID-19 patients and ongoing monitoring outside hospitals. Now, this serves as a current alternative to hospitalization in case the hospital workload increases due to the war.
Biobeat’s wireless and portable medical device also enables attending physicians to view real-time medical datafor patients who were evacuated from their homes. Additionally, the system, which includes a mental health feature, is implemented in psychiatric hospitals and trauma treatment facilities.
Amazingly, over 10 of Biobeat’s 30 employees are currently deployed in Gaza and the north, while others work tirelessly, contributing beyond their usual roles.
Despite the challenges, Biobeat’s remote monitoring watch has emerged as a vital tool in wartime, not only in efficiently managing healthcare resources but also in providing an alternative to hospitalization during heightened demand.
Addressing the mental health crisis
In addition to physical injuries, the war has sharply increased anxiety and stress rates. The Israeli startup ifeel, a platform for emotional therapy via chat or video with qualified clinical psychologists, is experiencing a surge in inquiries, particularly from the wives of frontline fighters who are managing homes and children alone for months, grappling with anxiety over their spouse’s well-being.
ifeel’s platform operates through organizations and companies, offering employees therapist-patient confidentiality. Amidst the war, they’ve recruited therapists and trained traditional therapists for digital operations to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of patients.
Successfully addressing the mental health crisis exacerbated by war, ifeel’s platform demonstrates the profound impact of digital therapy in offering solace to those struggling with anxiety and stress.
Together, these health-tech initiatives, each addressing a different need for Israel’s health system, underscore the multifaceted challenges posed by the war and the versatility of technology in meeting distinct health needs, ushering in a new era of resilience and innovation in the face of adversity.
Throughout these hundred days of war, the transformative impact of health-tech innovation has become clear, not only in facilitating recovery but also in illuminating the potential for positive change and guiding us towards a healthier and more connected world.