A robot rolls into Joel Cohen’s room in Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer.
“Hello Mr. Cohen, my name is Dr. Goodman and I’m about to ask you a few questions regarding your medical condition,” a woman on the screen says to the 40-year-old who contracted the novel coronavirus.
The video demonstration of a real-life scenario during the COVID-19 crisis was part of a virtual event held Tuesday in Ramat Gan showcasing the patient room of the future and how the outbreak accelerated the implementation of technological innovations.
“With COVID-19, the technology provided us with an opportunity to minimize contact between staff and patient, reducing the risk of the staff contracting the virus,” said Dr. Eyal Zimlichman, chief medical officer and chief innovation officer at Sheba Medical Center.
Israeli robotics health care company Meditemi made the robot, which in the demonstration was combined with examination and diagnostic tools from Israeli startup Tyto Care. Both technologies were adapted from general telehealth use to taking care of COVID-19 patients by merging examination and communication software, allowing the robot to be used for examining the patient in addition to doctor-to-patient communication.
“This has been really successful for us at Sheba during the past few weeks treating the COVID-19 patients,” Zimlichman said.
A total of 14,486 people in Israel have recovered from the coronavirus with 281 deaths out of 16,771 infections, according to Wednesday’s update from the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker.
Zimlichman was joined on the panel by Shimi Ernst, chief information officer at Sheba, and Prof. Amitai Ziv, director of Sheba’s Rehabilitation Hospital and associate dean of Sheba. The panel was moderated by Avner Halperin, digital health entrepreneur and Patient Room of the Future project leader.
Version 1.0 of HealthSpace2030, the hospital room of the future, was designed specifically to treat COVID-19 patients. The first glimpse of the room was scheduled for September but was bumped up because of the pandemic.
“There is much more that we want to do, plan to do and can do to make this truly the health space of 2030, but we wanted to accelerate it and make it available to everyone,” Halperin said.
The hospital room of the future is just one way that Sheba has been leading Israel’s response to the coronavirus in partnership with Israeli medtech startups via the hospital’s ARC (Accelerate Redesign Collaborate) Innovation Center.
Sheba was an early adopter of telemedicine when the coronavirus outbreak began, applying the remote method of treating infected patients, with, for example, the 12 Israeli passengers on board the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess back in February.
In March, Sheba opened an underground facility to treat COVID-19 patients dubbed the Corona Critical Care Unit (CCCU).
The video demonstration included 10 different technologies from Israeli medtech startups but also defense contractors shifting gears to the medical field to help with the coronavirus outbreak.
“We have seen a lot of cross-industry fertilization and collaboration coming together. For example, the defense industry coming together with the medical industry in these times of crisis,” said Zimlichman. “As you know, here in Israel these are two strong industries. So bringing their capabilities together has brought us solutions.”
Other telemedicine companies working with ARC at Sheba include Datos, a big data platform; EarlySense, a monitoring system; and XRHealth, providing AR and VR solutions.
Cohen’s condition worsens and he has to be ventilated. The doctor tells him that he is going to be sedated, and asks if Cohen would first like him to call his wife.
The doctor dials Cohen’s wife via a multimedia communications system by Israeli startup Uniper Care that plugs into a television set.
“The patient controls communication with staff and family via a very simple operational mode. We even used it during the COVID-19 [pandemic] for our psychiatric patients,” said Ziv.
“And the concept is to have full control of content. We can educate them on the content. We can let them entertain themselves via this platform, and in this case, to discuss with his wife,” Ziv continued. “These communications have been well-proven in the COVID-19 era that we just experienced, to be very intimate, very productive.”
Back to Cohen.
The video shows him with his wife, recovered and off the respirator. A negative test for COVID-19. A happy ending.