How the War is Speeding Up Innovation

January 19, 2024

For many years Sheba Medical Center has been a leader in developing new medical technology, not only in Israel but globally.

In this conflict Sheba was in a position to use new technologies to save lives and improve Israel’s medical response to the war.

The first need on October 7th was to urgently clear hospital beds for critically injured soldiers and victims of the attack. So Sheba undertook the world’s first experiment in sending home women hospitalized with high-risk pregnancies. In the photo below is Dr. Avi Tsur, the head of OB/GYN for Sheba Beyond, Sheba’s remote care program. On the screen is a high-risk pregnancy patient he is consulting with. In the foreground of the photo is the NUVO belt, a new technology that allows monitoring of fetal health and can be used by pregnant women themselves. They are also provided with an ultrasound device that their smartphone plugs into so the women can conduct an ultrasound on themselves in real time and get feedback from a doctor, nurse or midwife. As a result, women who otherwise would have spent weeks or months in the hospital can now be comfortably and safely at home. This advancement is not only helping with the war but will revolutionize maternal-fetal healthcare. The woman on the screen would have been in the hospital prior to Oct. 7. Now she, and many thousands to come, can have a much better pregnancy experience, take care of other children, and get the best medical care from their own bed.

Another leveraging of tech in response to the war was Sheba’s use of its MSR Center for Medical Simulation. At the request of the IDF, Sheba’s mobile simulation training van spent weeks traveling in the Gaza envelope before the ground invasion started, to refresh and update the training of physicians and combat medics, many of whom were years out of date on their combat trauma expertise. This has meant better treatment in the field from combat wounds and more soldiers’ lives saved. The death rate for wounded soldiers in Iron Swords is 6.7% — less than half the rate during the Second Lebanon War and 2.5% less than Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.

Another technology that has saved lives in this conflict is from a company called AIDOC. Birthed from within Sheba, AIDOC’s system uses artificial intelligence to read all sorts of medical scans, flagging problems for the radiologist or emergency room staff. The company was founded at Sheba in 2018 and now 1,200 hospitals worldwide use the system.

As reported in the Times of Israel, on Oct. 7th a 23-year-old woman patient came to Sheba who had been shot multiple times by Hamas terrorists at the music festival. One of the bullets penetrated her left eye and lodged in the right side of her brain. The AIDOC system detected bleeding in one of the arteries in her brain and Dr. Gal Yaniv, head of endovascular surgery at Sheba received a push notification to his phone as well as an alert on his computer. While the bleed would likely have been found by a radiologist, the AIDOC system was able to flag it immediately, saving precious time with an injury as critical as a brain bleed, when minutes count.

Thanks to this advanced AI technology, Sheba’s neurovascular team was able to act swiftly. An angiogram detected a tiny aneurysm in a small blood vessel in her brain that needed to be closed urgently to prevent a dangerous re-rupture, which would have likely led to death.

“Fortunately, everything was caught in time and treated properly and the young woman is now recovering from this and her other wounds in our rehabilitation center,” Dr. Yaniv said.

Not all victims of Hamas’ violence will be as fortunate. But the skill of Sheba’s physicians and the many cutting-edge technologies Sheba is curating means that the survival rates will be much higher, and with better long-term outcomes.

While they take hostages and randomly fire rockets at civilians, we will continue to find ways to raise humanity up and preserve life — chaim.

Am Yisrael Chai.


PS: This week we had another sold-out mission to Israel to volunteer at Sheba, help on a farm, meet hostage families and more. If you want to join us, we are sending another mission February 18-22. More information here.

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