The Israeli MedTech start-ups that stand out in the coronavirus crisis

The new trends and important issues dominating the changing face of MedTech developmnt

Father using Tyto Care device to take daughter's temperature. (photo credit: TYTO CARE.)
Father using Tyto Care device to take daughter's temperature.
(photo credit: TYTO CARE.)
Medical technology is seeing a major boost during the crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, and many promising Israeli start-ups who stood on the front line against the virus are now reaping the benefits, the financial daily Calcalist's C-Tech reported in a list of the most promising Israeli MedTech companies.
The list reflects not only the efforts of notable Israeli companies, but also the notable trends in MedTech development that have stood out as important due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Topping the list is the Netanya-based Tyto Care, a start-up founded in 2012, the financial daily reported. The company developed a device for remote medical testing and diagnosis using a cheap and easy-to-use tool. Due to the novel coronavirus's highly infectious nature, a remote testing tool is an essential innovation that could see new cases drop. The company made headlines in February when it made a device to help doctors at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer with the Israelis returning from the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess off the coast of Japan.
Tyto was not the only MedTech start-up on the list that developed diagnostic technology. Another company on the list, the telemedicine pioneer Healthy.io, created a smartphone-based urine test that could provide users with instant results. This technology was originally meant to tackle chronic illnesses and wounds.
“Chronic wounds are a significant burden to both patients and healthcare systems globally. In the UK, 2.2 million people suffer from chronic wounds, costing the National Health Service £5.3 billion, more than the cost of treating cancer,” the company told The Jerusalem Post back in February.
The company had already received approval for its test from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Another company, Clew Medical, developed an analytics engine that detects deterioration in real-time and delivers predictive warnings during all phases of a patient’s ICU stay. Since one of its primary features is monitoring respiratory systems to predict if a patient will need a ventilator, its importance was reinforced during the outbreak of a highly dangerous respiratory disease like COVID-19. Both Sheba and Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv are working with Clew to help treat coronavirus patients.
Similar to diagnostics, the coronavirus pandemic has also shown the importance of predictive and analytical programs as doctors have become increasingly overwhelmed by the amount of patients amid the pandemic.
One such company meeting this need was Tel Aviv-based artificial intelligence (AI) start-up Aidoc, whose AI software is designed to help doctors triage cases by urgency and speed up treatment through quick analyses of medical scans. This technology to help doctors prioritize urgent cases is already essential for hospitals, but its importance is made all the more evident during a global pandemic, C-Tech reported.
Already, Aidoc's technology is used in 300 hospitals worldwide, and according to C-Tech, the company was given four FDA approvals for scans to detect strokes, embolisms, cervical spine fractures and hemorrhaging.
Another company on the list, Emedgene, has also been working on analysis technology, this time through genetic mapping. Its technology automates analysis and interpretation of genetic information. Its systems already operating in hospitals and research labs in the US, and it was recently selected to begin researching on genetics and coronavirus, C-Tech reported.
However, the list also reflected a third trend in the MedTech industry: personalization.
With healthcare systems overwhelmed with the amount of patients infected by the coronavirus and the highly contagious nature of the disease, the need for remote testing and home testing has become more evident than ever before. One company on the list, K Health, meets this need with an app that performs initial diagnosis based on existing data. So far, the data stored is provided by Israeli healthcare provider Maccabi, which includes anonymous information on 2.2 million doctor visits collected over the course of 25 years, C-Tech reported. The app is still under review, but when the review is completed, it will allow users to find a doctor for an online consultation, the financial daily added.
In stark contrast to technology focused on sharing patient data is MDClone, a Beersheba-based start-up whose product focuses on protecting the privacy of patients. It does this via a database synthesizing real data with fictitious information. The importance of this is more important than ever, with the healthcare industry reportedly being the industry most vulnerable to and most often the victim of cyberattacks in the world.
In 2019, MDClone's system was already being utilized by several Israeli hospitals, such as Assuta Medical Center, Sheba Medical Center, Rambam Health Care Campus and Sourasky Medical Center, as well as with healthcare providers Maccabi and Clalit.
Recently, MDClone partnered with hospitals in Tel Aviv and Haifa as well as with Maccabi to create a data base for coronavirus patients, C-Tech reported, adding that this would allow data to be transferred without violating privacy.
Start-ups are not alone in making developments in Israel's fight against the coronavirus, however. Many research institutions such as the labs at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology are hard at work coming up with a variety of new innovations – such as treatment methods, diagnostic tools and vaccine candidates – to help combat the virus that has at the time of writing over 7,000 Israelis sick and 212 dead.
Rossella Tercatin, Hillel Fuld and Ilanit Chernick contributed to this report.