November 16, 2018

American Israeli Medical Association Event Provides Current Status of Israeli Medicine, Startups

The American Israeli Medical Association (AIMA) held its 10th annual BioMedTech summit on Sunday, focusing on the current state of Israeli medicine and startups and what the medical field will look like in 2030.

The event kicked off with Eitan Weiss, the deputy consul general of Israel in Los Angeles, briefly stating that it was “vital and important” that the United States and Israel maintain good ties in the field of medicine and told those in the field to “keep up the good work.” Later on, Ben Drillings, the director of AIMA, provided some statistics about the Israeli medical field, most notably that Israeli biomedical companies received $4.8 billion in investment in 2016, an 11% increase from the year prior.

Additionally, Drillings noted that there were a total of 568 Israeli biomed companies and 1,350 active life science companies, half of which focused research and development. Israel also has the highest PhDs per capita worldwide.

Dr. Zeev Feldman, chairman of the Israel Medical Association (IMA) World Fellowship, followed Drillings with a presentation predicting the state of Israeli health care and medicine in 2030. Feldman highlighted predictions from a Futurology podcast that 80% of all doctor’s visits would be replaced by automated tests and that 90% of restaurants would use 3-D printers for food, and then proceeded to give a rundown of what Israeli medicine and health care would look like.

Feldman predicted that fragmentation and specialization would continue in the field, as he believes that new specialties will be established and existing ones would be expanded. He also expected technological advancements in the industry to continue, although he pointed out that it’s difficult to obtain the funding for such technology. Feldman predicted that by 2030, most surgeries would rely on wireless energy, people can obtain “hyper-individual medicines” and pharmaceuticals will be nonexistent.

However, Feldman noted that Israel will soon face a shortage in the health care industry as a result of “retirements.” He also provided statistics showing that Israel is fourth worldwide in life expectancy and spends 7.4% of its GDP on health care, which he said was “extremely low.”

Orthopedic surgeon Tzaki Siev-Ner of the IMA World Fellowship followed Feldman by discussing how the Israeli army provides medical aid to those in dire need of it in other countries.

“It is our moral mission to help and support other countries,” said Siev-Ner.

For example, when Haiti experienced a devastating earthquake in 2010 the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sent field hospital staff members to Haiti in 72 hours, where they treated over 4,000 patients and performed 215 operations in a span of two weeks.

Siev-Ner also pointed out that in 2013, Israel provided care to seven Syrians at the border harmed by the civil war that has ravaged the country since 2011. Israel even ensured that the medical documentation they provided to the Syrians they treated had zero indication that they were treated by Israelis.

The orthopedic surgeon noted that in the moral dilemma on whether to provide medical care to the enemy, “We always remember that the physicians are the neutral attorney of the poor.”

The final keynote speaker was Jon Medved, the CEO of OurCrowd. Medved focused on the thriving startup culture in Israel, stating that it was “second only to Silicon Valley” in that regard. He also pointed out that $5 billion has been invested in Israeli startups and Israeli venture investment has soared by 150% since 2013.

“Israel is one of the top four countries in the world with companies trading in New York,” said Medved, noting that Israel was only behind the U.S., Canada and China. “It’s absurd! Eight million people and we’re doing this? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Medved also stated that “the whole world is being disrupted by innovation,” which is forcing multinational corporations to go to Israel to become more innovative.

OurCrowd, Medved’s company, helps raise money for startups, and some of those companies included ReWalk Robotics, which provides the technology necessary to help paraplegics walk and stand and MedAware, a company that cracks down on prescription errors by utilizing Big Data.