“I’m so excited to interrupt my busy day for a doctor’s appointment! Being stuck in traffic, hunting for parking, and inhaling germs from strangers in waiting rooms is totally worth it, just to spend a few minutes with my healthcare provider! »
Say nobody, never.
Technologies that enable medical assessment, monitoring and treatment without leaving home were already in development before the pandemic hit.
Covid-19 has accelerated this trend as medical appointments have gone from a boring time to a frightening health risk.
“The ‘hospital at home’ trend doesn’t mean we’re going to close hospitals,” says Dr. Yossi Bahagon, physician and managing partner of digital health-focused Qure Ventures fund OurCrowd.
“The need for infusion increases as drug development progresses. The question is, where is this care going to be administered? »
“It is a question of differentiating the medical interactions which should be taken care of face-to-face from the medical interactions which could be taken care of, without degradation of the quality of care, in a virtual way via telemedicine”, explains- he.
“If you use the different interaction models intelligently, you will have more time and capacity for face-to-face interactions in cases that really cannot be handled remotely.”
Many Israeli companies are supporting this trend with telehealth exam devices (such as TytoCare, Nonagon, and OmnySense), remote monitoring (such as Biobeat, CardiacSense, and HeraMED), virtual hospitals, and data-based healthcare. smartphones.
Devices that deliver medications can extend “hospital at home” services to many more patients. This is another Israeli stronghold: Israel Advanced Technology Industries lists 30 companies in the drug distribution business.
Patches, pills, injections, infusions
Anyone can take medication at home in the form of a transdermal patch or an oral pill.
But most biologic drugs (as opposed to chemical drugs) that are becoming more common these days must be given parenterally, using prefilled syringes, portable injectors, subcutaneous injections, or intravenous infusions ( IV).
“IV is by far the largest type of drug delivery used in pharmaceutical companies’ developing pipeline,” said Shaul Eitan, president of Eitan Medical, a company reimagining drug delivery with a mindset patient-centered.
Andrei Yosef, general manager of pharmaceutical solutions at Eitan Medical, told ISRAEL21c that the average hospital patient receives 1.2 infusions. Sometimes patients are hooked up to three or more infusion pumps.
“The need for infusion increases as drug development progresses,” he says.
“The question is, where is this care going to be administered?”
Devices that deliver infusions at or near home reduce patient stress, reduce costs and reduce the workload of chronically understaffed hospitals.
A personal story
Founded in 2009, Eitan Medical first developed a range of Sapphire ambulatory infusion pumps for hospitals and homes. Today, more than 100,000 of these software devices are used by 3,500 customers in approximately 40 countries.
His latest two connected devices are Sorrel, a wearable injector; and Avoset for acute home infusion. Both come to market in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies.
“During the years that Shaul and I worked on Sapphire, I drove my mother-in-law to the hospital once a week to receive an infusion of a biological cancer drug,” Yosef told ISRAEL21c.
“A five-minute infusion actually takes a day. Half a day if you’re lucky,” he says.
It always took a long time to convince her stepmother to follow her treatments – and to convince himself to take her out despite the danger to her weakened immune system.
“Then you drive and look for parking. I hope you find something nearby because she can’t walk anymore. And then you see a nurse, then you see a doctor, then you go back to the nurse and you get a five-minute infusion. And then you go home.
This scenario is “a problem we want to solve,” says Yosef, who has a doctorate in biomedical engineering.
“We want to empower people to live their lives alongside these chronic conditions and that’s easier to do when they’re not in hospital.”
Medication delivery devices like Sorrel and Avoset are designed in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies and integrated with telehealth technologies, as mentioned above, which monitor and transmit patient data to healthcare providers and medical records. electronics.
The devices allow medical staff to remotely assess the progress of treatment and whether a patient needs help, without daily phone calls.
“If this data can be collected by machine, you can trust it, you can use it to make decisions, and you will be able to help patients stay adherent, healthy and out of hospital” , says Shaul, electrical engineer of training.
“In 2022, it doesn’t seem difficult to connect to a database and start tracking, but in the field of medical devices, it’s not so trivial. There are privacy and cybersecurity issues and the willingness of patients to work with the technology itself.
Ease of use
Eitan Medical trains nurses to teach patients to use medication delivery devices in approximately 15 minutes.
“In most cases, it’s the first time in their lives that patients are aware of the existence of an infusion pump, and they have no intuition on how to use it. It’s not the right time, anyway, to start learning new things,” says Eitan.
“So we’ve designed our pumps to be easy to use, which helps us build trust with our customers.”
Eitan Medical has grown from 17 to almost 400 employees, with offices in Israel, the UK, the US and France.
There is a lot of competition in portable delivery systems and infusion pumps, an area that Israel dominates.
There is plenty of business for everyone, given the vast and growing needs of the market: Eitan tells ISRAEL21c that aside from kidney care, infusion is the most acute type of care performed at home.
Bahagon says the appropriateness of administering medication at home should be decided in consultation with the patient’s oncologist or infectious disease expert.
“You have to consider resource availability, cost and patient safety. Hospital care may be the safest option for some patients, but you have to balance the risk of serious hospital-acquired infections with good enough home monitoring and drug delivery systems,” he says.
“Virtual care requires different skills, different tools, and different ways of thinking than seeing the patient in front of you,” adds Bahagon.
“Israel can excel in this area. We are used to developing sophisticated medical devices that are used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. »
Eitan and Yosef said they keep patients in mind when designing devices to easily deliver medication.
“I wake up in the morning thinking about how we can improve patient friendliness,” says Yosef. “It’s the number one thing that drives us to keep doing what we’re doing.”
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