Ichilov hospital and Sourasky Medical Centre in Tel Aviv..
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/GELLERJ)
Heat therapy can be used for a variety of physical ills, from treating stiff joints to muscular pain and spasms to reducing inflammation, alleviating headaches and augmenting the effects of chemotherapy.
More recently, thermotherapy has been found to help menopausal women who suffer from gynecological dryness and stretching of the tissues after numerous deliveries. While taking oral estrogen can relieve vaginal dryness, some cannot take the pills because they have had or are at risk for breast or ovarian cancer or the pills do not help them.
The US Food Drug Administration and the Health Ministry in Jerusalem have approved a mobile radio-frequency (RF) device called ThermiVa that uses heat to stimulate collagen production and promote lubrication in gynecological tissue, thus preventing pain in intercourse. A beneficial side effect that was noticed in treated women is that it strengthens the wall of the bladder and can alleviate urinary stress, urge and overflow incontinence in women as well, even though it was not developed specifically for this common complaint.
Dr. Amy Kesselman, a former assistant professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who came on aliya with her family three years ago, is the only woman gynecologist who uses ThermiVa in Israel.
The device is imported from Texas; other devices for these purposes produce heat using a variety of lasers, but Kesselman said that the RF device she uses with a disposable probe is the most comfortable for women and produces no pain or other side effects.
Nearly half of all women after menopause, she said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, suffer from vaginal dryness, which can also be caused by drugs, and many also complain about urinary incontinence. The heat strengthens the muscle but does not treat prolapse of the tissues, said Kesselman, who works out of clinics in Jerusalem, Ramat Aviv and Caesarea. She advises women not to undergo gynecological thermotherapy treatments at the hand of non-physicians or even doctors who are not gynecologists, and not to agree to the reuse of the heated disposable probes, which are expensive (reuse can cause serious infections).
Kesselman will not give the treatment unless the patient undergoes a gynecological exam, including a Pap smear, and does not suffer from vaginal infections.
The treatment is not included in the basket of health services and is thus expensive, but some may be covered by private health insurance. Three painless 30-minute treatments are initially needed and one maintenance treatment is required annually.NAVIGATING THROUGH SOURASKY
An expanded digital website and a smartphone application that provides more information than in any other Israeli hospital has been instituted by Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. Not only will patients be able to quickly get password-protected results of medical tests taken in the hospital but also they can access a Waze-like navigation program to find their way around the campus and view hospitalization rates and waiting times, medical file summaries and reliable medical information on a wide variety of procedures.
Sourasky director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu said the mission of the new system is to present the hospital as a “business service” with over 6,000 pages of information about its departments and staff.
The website is located at www.tasmc.org.il/Pages/ default.aspx.
The application, developed in cooperation with the Israeli company Shimeba and the Swedish company senion, enables those who come to the medical center to enjoy a friendly and comfortable experience. All that is required is to write the name of the department or clinic he wants to reach, and within seconds, the smartphone screen will present a direct route to the destination as well as voice instructions that accompany him throughout.
For those who do not have an advanced smartphone, information screens have been placed on the ground floor of the hospital; more will be placed throughout the medical center soon. At the same time, an Ask-Me volunteer organization was set up to assist people who don’t want to or can’t use the technology and need human help.
The hospital previously instituted a system to update inpatients on medical tests via SMS messages directly to the cellular phone; this platform will soon be used in some outpatient clinics as well.
This year, most of the inpatient departments have personal screens opposite patients’ beds, where they can watch TV on a variety of channels or surf the Internet, as well as receive relevant information about the hospital A hospital check-in service is soon to be launched that will save the admission process to the clinic (similar to the service offered at the airport). In addition, patients will be able to book an appointment to the outpatient clinics on the website and receive telemedicine services (consultation with online specialists).
To improve services, the hospital management decided to switch to a digital patient satisfaction survey, a platform for reaching the maximum patient population and requesting feedback; information received from patients is processed and its results are integrated into the annual work plans.
“One of the main challenges is to make service an integral part of our excellence,” said Gamzu, who was previously director-general of the Health Ministry.
“The challenge is especially acute because the health system is constantly lacking adequate resources.”