Hadassah Hospital bid to foster tech yields breast milk app, other innovations

Second cohort now beginning in IBM-operated accelerator; other products by graduates include surgery navigation system, algorithm that optimizes ADHD and autism diagnosis

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

An illustrative photo of a woman breastfeeding her baby. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
An illustrative photo of a woman breastfeeding her baby. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

As hospitals struggle to make ends meet, they are turning to technology to increase efficiency, improve patient care and reduce the number of mistakes made by tired doctors and nurses. One such initiative is a startup accelerator set up eight months ago by Hadassah Hospital and operated by IBM.

“We seek to maximize the ecosystem of innovation in Hadassah,” said Tamar Raz, the CEO of Hadasit Medical Research Services and Development Ltd., a unit that commercializes innovations developed within the hospital. The program, the first medical accelerator operated inside a hospital and IBM’s first worldwide, will complement the research being done within the hospital walls, she said.

The Hadassah Accelerator is a six-month program in the Ein Kerem neighborhood of Jerusalem that aims to help startups develop technologies for the global medical market. The program focuses on early-stage enterprises — at seed and post-seed stage — and provides them a place to work, access to the hospital’s clinical and research infrastructure and medical staff, and the chance to work with IBM’s databases, including its Watson and Watson Health software and cloud services.

The startups can enlist doctors and patients to test out their ideas, while the hospital will be able to tap into new technologies at an early stage.

Tamar Raz, CEO of the Hadasit Medical Research Services and Development Ltd. (Courtesy)

“Digital health is a new field, and we wanted to make a link between innovation in this field and Hadassah,” Raz said. “Our long-time vision is to help companies and bring their innovation and new ideas into the hospital. This maximizes our ability to use the technologies earlier.”

Hospitals that are at the forefront of innovation are better positioned to cope with the challenges posed by shortage of staff and budgetary constraints, she said.

To be eligible for the program, companies have to be less than five years old, have a “strong fit” with the Hadassah medical ecosystem and with IBM technologies, and have an innovative healthcare solution, an explanatory sheet about the program says.

Among the graduates of the first class of the accelerator are MyMilk, which is developing a handheld breast milk scanner that connects with an app that monitors milk quality and production and provides information about the origin of complications including pain and infection.

TuneFork‘s software allows the creation of a personalized audio profiles, through a simple hearing test and using algorithms to calculate the optimal frequencies for the user.

Deep Health is developing an AI-based surgery navigation system, with the first of its products addressing spine surgery.

MDI Health provides data-driven software that can predict how a prescribed medical cocktail is going to affect patients.

Tongo, formerly known as Ukappi, is a tongue-based system that enables users to control digital devices without relying on their hands.

Neuroya has developed an algorithm that optimizes the diagnosis and management of conditions such as ADHD and autism.

The accelerator has already selected some startups for its second cohort, which has just started running. These include a startup that is developing technology to autonomously identify treatment gaps and errors in medical records, and one that is developing a wearable device that delivers microcurrent electrotherapy for pain reduction.

The program is located in the premises of the BioHouse workspace in the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center. The program was set up in partnership with the Jerusalem Development Authority, which is also funding it.

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