Israeli startup wins healthcare tech challenge to help US hospitals cut costs

CatAI uses smartphone cameras to track medical data of home patients; has been awarded $75,000 to run pilot with Florida's US Baptist Health

Israeli startup CatAI wins health tech challenge led by Start-Up Nation Central. (Vered Farkash)

Israeli startup CatAI, which has developed a smartphone-based health app to monitor patients’ medical conditions at home, was named the winner of a healthcare competition to help US hospitals cut costs.

The early-stage startup was selected among 106 local companies competing in the clinical capacity tech challenge, which showcased their tech solutions aimed at reducing administrative tasks for healthcare providers to effectively manage staffing, thereby cutting costs for hospitals and healthcare institutions.

The challenge was launched earlier this year by Tel Aviv-based Start-Up Nation Central, which connects international businesses and government leaders with Israeli technology and facilitates access to the country’s startup ecosystem, together with Sheba Medical Center’s innovation arm ARC Innovation and Baptist Health Innovations. The latter is part of South Florida-based Baptist Health, the largest healthcare organization in the region, operating 12 hospitals and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices.

Founded in late 2021 by CEO Avner Rouach, surgeon and emergency medicine specialist Dr. Shlomi Israelit; CTO Avi Motova, and COO Ofer Bar, CatAI recognized healthcare providers’ need for dependable remote home patient health monitoring to help reduce rehospitalization and hospital overcrowding and thereby lower costs.

As the global population ages, the number of patients, and specifically elderly patients, requiring healthcare monitoring continues to rise, further increasing the burden on hospitals and the healthcare system.

Rouach recounted that he left the Israeli army after serving more than 20 years in the Israeli Air Force and in the IDF’s innovation unit to create the startup after finding a lot of vital paperwork related to blood pressure and pulse measurements that got lost in his wife’s grandmother’s house.

CatAI’s app transmits medical data of home patients via smartphone camera. (Courtesy)
CatAI’s app transmits medical data of home patients via smartphone camera. (Courtesy)

“This personal experience was the reason for searching for a digital health solution for accurate remote patient monitoring,” Rouach told The Times of Israel.

The startup developed a platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to track and monitor medical parameters, including blood pressure, heart rate,​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​blood oxygen saturation level​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ and temperature,​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ from a patient’s home. The CatAI app uses a patient’s existing smartphone camera harnessing patented image recognition capabilities to extract and transmit medical data and test results, such as blood clotting level, directly to a patient’s medical file, which is accessible to caregivers and healthcare providers.

“What do you do to remember where you park car? You take a picture with your smartphone, and this is how easy it is to use our app,” Rouach told The Times of Israel. “We have found that if typing is involved, home patients make a lot of mistakes when transmitting medical data, while the use of an image is accurate.”

Using the app, data and information can be extracted from any traditional medical device. It can also be connected to any communicating device, such as wearables. In addition, the app system sends alerts to caregivers about changes in home patients’ vital signs, such as reduced oxygen saturation coupled with weight gain, that may require changing medical treatment, or about changes in blood pressure and heartrate that may need to be addressed immediately to save lives.

“Our app eliminates the need to purchase expensive medical devices, deal with connectivity issues or maintenance teams,” Rouach added.

As part of the challenge, the Herzliya-based startup was awarded a $75,000 in-kind pilot to work with Baptist Health Innovations and further develop its technology to enter the US market. The award also includes professional consulting and mentorship from ARC Sheba health experts and Triventures, a global early-stage fund that invests in innovative healthcare.

CatAI’s app tracks blood pressure levels of home patients over time. (Courtesy)

In Israel, CatAI’s app is used in the homes of patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes and other conditions, according to Rouach. Among the startup’s customers are Sabar Health, Israel’s largest home hospital service; and Meuhedet, the country’s third-largest health insurance and medical services organization.

“The Hospital2Hospital Challenge represents a pivotal step in leveraging Israeli innovation to address critical healthcare challenges,” said Start-Up Nation Central CEO Avi Hasson. “This initiative aligns with our mission to foster collaboration between hospitals, startups, and healthcare multinationals for meaningful impact and implementation of innovative solutions.”

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