Health 2.0 Israel Kicks Off: Three Startup Nation Companies to Watch

The opening session of Health 2.0 Israel is an important event, marking the establishment of a community in a country referred to as a “startup nation.” The meeting was successful, and according to the organizers of the group, Yishai Knobel and Anat Binur it will be held once a quarter now.

Health 2.0 meets “startup nation”

Israel has been renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit, especially in high tech and web arenas; services like ICQ, Babylon and others have spurred from Israel and attracted large corporations such as Google, Apple, Intel and Microsoft to open R&D centers in the country.

Additional global companies in the health space came out of Israel, such as the generics giant Teva and Given Imaging with its PillCam enabling capsule-based endoscopy.

Another notable fact is that the Israeli universal coverage health care system is almost 100% EHR enabled. So every Israeli citizen has a computerized record.

All of these make Israel a place that is expected to produce a plethora of Health 2.0 services, but a community and culture hasn’t formed and the attention to these kinds of ventures has been marginal at best.

With growth in interest globally, Israel has become an interesting platform and the time is right for a community to grow. For years now Israelis have been a part of global Health 2.0 community, developing and leading interesting and innovative platforms, but these efforts were done out of the country.

The founders of the Israeli chapter are the two most talented people: Yishai Knobel, most recently director of mobile health at AgaMatrix, which developed an iPhone-plugin glucose monitor for people with diabetes, and Anat Binur who runs business development for a network of angel investors in Northern California. The community is an open community and is gathered around a Meetup group. It is intended for entrepreneurs, investors, and health care practitioners and is designed to provide an ongoing gathering venue for innovators in the space.

The meeting

The kickoff meeting was hosted at Microsoft ThinkNext labs in Herzliya.  With more than 50 participants, mostly entrepreneurs and developers with intriguing ideas, the networking session was followed by demos from three Israeli Health 2.0 startups: Treato, Telesofia and Tawkon.

Treato

This Israeli startup is seeking to make sense of online health conversations. Treato crawls the web for blogs and forums, and using advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP), extracts information from users about the medication they take and their effects.  Treato aspires to provide a full picture about medications based on patients’ online feedback.

Treato says this is the first time that the social health web has been indexed on a massive scale to generate a clear sense of what patients say, accessible to everyone in the health care ecosystem.

Treato developed a service both for consumers to check their medications (free of charge) and also a service for pharmaceutical marketers (the business model). You can think about Treato’s service for Pharma as a marketing intelligence service that provides real-time insights into patients’ opinions and attitudes, enabling them to understand competitive positioning, determine DTC priorities, and enhance patient engagement.


Telesofia

Telesofia is engaged in the development and application of software called MyRx TV designed to improve health literacy so patients can better understand the instructions they received from the doctor. Health literacy is a broad and fascinating field which referrers to our ability to understand the doctor’s instructions and act on them intelligently.

Research data on the subject, is quite shocking. According to Telesofia, approximately 36% of Americans have low health literacy, resulting in over $100 billion a year to the American healthcare system.

To tackle this challenge, Telesofia developed a system that allows the patient to scan the medication, enter his personal information and get a customized video explaining the drug. The short film is also tailored to the gender and age of the patient so that they can relate to the film. The film is kept simple and clear to facilitate comprehension of medication and instructions. The company claims that its solution increases adherence and thus reduces costs. For me this is a fascinating idea, and has significant potential.


Tawkon

This app aims to help us keep our “cellular health.” Tawkon alerts us when our phone radiation level becomes dangerous. All radiation sources including Bluetooth, WiFi and the cellular network itself are monitored. And the alarm alerts you to change the grip or the distance from the ear and thereby reduce radiation. It is absolutely clear that this is an important application, but not surprising it is less popular with the mobile manufacturers and service providers. It is a fascinating idea; however the business model is less clear. Today it can be downloaded free on Android phones.


The first meeting of the Health 2.0 Israel was fascinating, especially because I could at last feel that there are others similarly crazy people like me, who imagine the possibilities of connecting digital tech and medicine. The next meeting will be held hopefully in the next quarter.

This post was originally published in Hebrew on http://e-pochonder.com/

Uri Goren works at the Neopharm Group and has extensive experience in the health and pharmaceutical communications field. 

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