Sheba Medical Center Implements Telemedicine to Prevent Spread of Coronavirus

Sheba Cancer Center in Ramat Gan, Israel. (image provided by Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer)

Through its creative response to the deadly coronavirus, Israel has once again demonstrated the unparalleled expertise in medical technology that has positioned the Jewish state at the forefront of global healthcare.

Israel’s national hospital, Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer, sees telemedicine as an integral part of the future of medicine. It is the focus of one of the six innovation hubs housed within Sheba’s ARC Innovation Center, a start-up ecosystem where doctors and entrepreneurs collaborate tirelessly to redesign healthcare. The result of this innovative spirit has been on full display recently through Sheba’s treatment of Israeli patients who have been diagnosed with coronavirus or who have been exposed to the highly contagious disease.

Sheba Medical Center has pioneered the first coronavirus telemedicine program in Israel, which is effectively treating quarantined patients while simultaneously decreasing the risk of infecting others, including hospital staff, other patients, and the Israeli public at large.

As other countries around the world have frantically scrambled to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19, with many still racing to do so, medical staff at Sheba Medical Center proactively prepared an off-campus site prepped for the use of telemedicine.  The program has proven effective at comfortably and safely quarantining the Israeli citizens who were exposed to coronavirus while sailing on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

The genius behind the use of this cutting-edge telemedicine tactic under current circumstances is that Sheba’s patients are treated with the world’s highest standard of care while reducing risk to the health of others.  The minimization of direct contact between these patients and Sheba medical staff is a gamechanger in the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

To accomplish this, Sheba is utilizing a Vici telemedicine system, essentially a robot-like apparatus which enters patients’ rooms under the control of trained doctors and nurses to monitor the patients.  Created by Intouch Health, a virtual healthcare company, the Vici system can check patients’ vital signs without a doctor physically present.

The physicians operate the robot from a remote location, communicating regularly with the patients and conducting basic check-ups while the patients safely remain in a secluded, quarantined complex far away from Sheba’s central patient care areas.

Another crucial element of Sheba’s telemedicine system is a brilliant mobile app developed by Datos, currently in use between Sheba’s medical staff and other patients who are under quarantine in their homes – something Israel has mandated for travelers returning from select countries.  Datos continuously connects patients to their physicians from the comfort of their own homes through specialized video communications.

Sheba’s telemedicine toolkit also includes a handheld device created by Tytocare which enables physicians to remotely examine patients using stethoscopes, thermometers, and most importantly, a way to monitor the lungs – which coronavirus tends to attack more aggressively.  Sheba’s medical staff also rely heavily on EarlySense, a technology that supplies the real-time delivery of actionable data and patient data management tools that when combined, allow clinical staff to identify and prevent potential serious medical situations before they escalate.

Countries around the world which are struggling to contain the spread of coronavirus, or which are bracing themselves for their first potential cases, should follow Sheba’s lead in containing this threat through the use of telemedicine. With incredible foresight, Sheba has been working on perfecting its telemedicine strategy for years.

Professor Mordechai Shani, who served as director general of Sheba Medical Center for 33 years, is a legendary medical pioneer who devoted many years to research in the field of eHealth, combined with disease management and telemedicine. And Sheba’s current director general, Professor Yitshak Kreiss, M.D., is furthering Shani’s work while also taking telemedicine to unprecedented heights by combining this dedication with his extensive expertise in crisis leadership in medical emergencies.

This team of visionary experts leading Sheba Medical Center today are continuously pushing the boundaries of medical innovation on a daily basis.  They are leading a global research powerhouse that defies all odds, refuses to give up, and goes above and beyond each to conquer the challenges of today and tomorrow.

With trademark Israeli chutzpah, Sheba is reshaping the future as it moves from a medical center to a City of Health.

About the Author
Evan Nierman is Founder and CEO of Red Banyan, an international public relations and crisis management firm. For the past 20-plus years, he has helped leading companies, governments, business leaders and high-profile individuals accomplish their goals using strategic communications.
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