Thomas Sudow
Thomas Sudow
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Israel on Cutting Edge of Digital Health: A Unique Partnership takes Root

Knowing that healthcare delivery cannot stagnate, and understanding the power of digital health to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients, Maccabi and Cleveland Clinic joined in 2014 to develop new and better digital health technologies
A nurse uses a digital health app (Courtesy)
A nurse uses a digital health app (Courtesy)

Israel is at the forefront of the digital health revolution which is changing the delivery of healthcare internationally.  In 2003, I began meeting companies in Israel who were developing products in electronic medical records, population health,  the ability for patients to have access to their health  records, and exploring opportunities in improving healthcare delivery.  Shortly thereafter, on my many visits to Israel I began to see companies involved in the remote tracking of patients and the ability to access patients remotely in real-time.  All very cutting edge 12 years ago.

During this period of time, Maccabi Healthcare Services, Israel’s second largest Health Maintenance Organization that operates 150 medical clinics throughout the country, as well as 20 medical diagnostic and therapeutic centers, 50 pharmacies and are connected digitally by eRx to 600 pharmacies, a national network of nursing homes, 6 regional centers and two hospitals, begant to become one of the world’s leader in electronic medical records and digital health.  Maccabi began to harness the power of healthcare information in the care and treatment of patients and in the ability to provide pro-active care.

While Israel was leading the world in the emergence of digital health technologies, in the United States Cleveland Clinic  (one of the world’s leading health providers with 6.4M patient visits, 50,000  caregivers, 27 institutes with 120 sub-specialties and one of the top 2 hospitals in the United States)  became one of the first hospitals to “go paperless” and has been a leader for nearly two decades in electronic medical records and the use of data in patient care driving better patient outcomes.  Today, individually Cleveland Clinic and Maccabi Health are leaders in providing distance health, the use of healthcare data as a predictor of outcomes, and in optimal management of patients.

Knowing that healthcare delivery cannot be stagnate and understanding the power of digital health to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients and the management of healthcare institutions, Maccabi and Cleveland Clinic joined together in 2014 to build a vision to develop new and better digital health technologies. Digital health encompasses a wide range of sectors: Lifestyle & wellness, mHealth, Home Care, Healthcare IT, Monitoring devices, Tele-health, Big Data, Image Processing, Remote Diagnostics and more.

In 2015, eHealth Ventures with founding partners Maccabi Health Services, Cleveland Clinic Innovations was born and has been funded by Amgen (AMGN) – a global biopharmaceutical leader building its digital health pipeline, Medison Pharma, a leading Israeli pharmaceutical distributor, SCI – a major Chinese VC and several private investors.

In 2016, eHealth was selected by the Israel Innovation Authority, to operate one of the first digital health incubators in Israel – one of 19 funded incubators by the Authority across industries.. Under this program, each of the companies selected by the incubator will receive funding and a full suite of services designed to build maximum value – from strategy and potential market validation, through indication and product selection and development, all the way to go-to-market strategies, commercial and financial contacts – provided by the incubator and its partners.  In early 2017, in a state-of-the-art facility strategically located between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, the incubator opened its doors to be the home for cutting edge Israeli digital health companies.

The eHealth vision was built on identifying and incubating digital health companies that would be identified through a rigorous due diligence process, led by the industry leaders at Cleveland Clinic and Maccabi. These partners are able to select the most promising companies based on:

  • Clinically relevant – would the technology fundamentally change the standard of care and measurably improve outcomes. Does it solve a real clinical need that significantly improves the diagnosis and treatment of patient? Or keep them healthier longer?  Does it improve the delivery of healthcare? Make it more efficient and effective?
  • Scientifically proven – In the world of medicine evidence based decision making is of the highest priority.  That means scientific evidence from well-designed and conducted research. Medicine which is based on science requires empirical support to prove the value of the innovation.  What does the science say? Further, does the technology need regulatory approval to be applied for use with patients?  What is that regulatory path and strategy?
  • Commercially Viable – What is the size of the market? What are the barriers to entering that market? Is the technology reimbursable by third-party insurers?  Does the company have viable business model to bring the product to market? What is the risk quotation associated with the development and commercialization of the technology?

This due diligence model uses this network of industry leaders, KOL’s, collaborators, service providers and users, coupled with a hands on approach, which allows eHealth to not only identify disruptive ventures, but also be hugely additive in their development, growth and eventual commercialization by providing vital support from the partners and the leading team of experts assembled to manage and support the incubator.  The unique skill set of the partners is critical in evaluating early stage companies, some who are no more than a concept, and developing and bringing them to market in the most efficient manner.

eHealth is Israel’s first solely  digital health fund and the only one which links two internationally recognized healthcare providers along with leading strategic healthcare partners.   It is an important first for Israel to assist in continuing to lead the way in the development of vital new technologies in this emerging arena.

eHealth will official inaugurate the new incubator on March 23, 2017, at program in Tel Aviv, where all of the partners will join to together to discuss digital health and the future of healthcare.  The event will also be the finals for the Digital Health Start up Competition sponsored by eHealth.  This is another moment for Israel to celebrate its leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship.

About the Author
Tom Sudow is the Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Ashland University and an Advisor to eHealth Ventures Israel and to SCI (a Chinese investment group investing in Israel. He has worked with Israeli startups for 20 years and has lecture numerous times in Israel. He is also Director of Business Development for Cleveland Clinic Innovations (the 2nd ranked Hospital in the United States).
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