As both consumer and provider expectations zero in on healthcare that is more personal, reliable, accurate, and data-driven, the global HealthTech market furthering those goals is projected to grow to over $200 billion worldwide by 2024.
Israel’s digital health ecosystem has become a fertile breeding ground for innovative HealthTech solutions. According to data from Start-Up Nation Finder, Israel’s share of global investment increased from 1.5% in 2014 to 4.5% in 2019, and reached $1.5B in investment capital even in 2022’s financially challenging atmosphere (2021 saw $2.6B invested into Israeli HealthTech), Israeli tech is driving global health digitalization. Contributors to a strong Israel health startup ecosystem include a well-established healthcare system with decades of digital health data, advanced AI and cybersecurity capabilities, and stakeholder support for innovative solutions.
The Trajectory of Global Healthcare: First, Close the Gap; Then, Go Full Speed Ahead
Access to basic medical care may sound obvious, but in many remote areas – including wide population swaths in the United States – it is not to be taken for granted. Through telehealth, remote monitoring and patient engagement technologies, digital health has made tremendous inroads in equalizing access to medical care and improving health outcomes. The same HealthTech innovations also dramatically reduce the burnout-inducing burden on physicians and medical staff – critical components for positive long-term global health outcomes.
In parallel to equality of care, HealthTech promises the improvement of care to new levels of personalization and effectiveness. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can be harnessed to deliver more accurate diagnoses and treatment recommendations, turning databases full of anonymized medical data into a personalized suggestion for which treatment is most likely to work the best in any individual case. The intersection of AI and the physical sciences also holds the potential for new avenues in drug development that could reduce the need for animal testing and other ethically problematic practices.
The Israel HealthTech sector has a unique ability to push world healthcare forward in all of these areas.
Israel HealthTech: Drawing on Digitalization and Data
A key advantage of Israel’s HealthTech industry is Israel’s public healthcare system, comprised of four competing HMOs that have been digitally-based for the past 25 years. This wealth of medical data – protected by Israel’s data privacy laws and cybersecurity tech expertise – is attractive to global health providers and pharmaceutical companies searching for insights and an R&D sandbox. Many of the players in the Israel health startup ecosystem have positioned themselves as partners for multinational health-related corporations that want to leverage comprehensive medical data for their product or service development.
Israel’s HMOs are partially publicly funded and partially privatized. They compete with each other for clients and revenue, making innovation in services, offerings and work efficiency a priority. This atmosphere of healthy competition has given rise to numerous HealthTech innovations designed for the Israeli medical system, but modifiable and exportable to the world.
Getting any given Israeli digital health technology to where it can most help the world, however, is not without its challenges.
Bringing Israeli HealthTech to Market: The Challenges
Some of the obstacles Israeli HealthTech startups face are common to all startups, such as early stage access to capital. The groundbreaking idea brewing in an Israeli R&D lab will not make it to market without an investor, but an investor is unlikely to invest in a concept that hasn’t yet made it out of the lab.
Another area where startups tend to stall is in the POC stage. Despite the vast majority (approximately 80%) of POCs in the corporate funnel being successful in terms of validating the concept, only 10-25% of them result in full-scale commercial implementation.
Other challenges, however, are particular to HealthTech, including human capital supply gaps and market education and adjustment. While Israel has excellent medical personnel – more than enough talent to support the digital health ecosystem – the technological skill gap among medical professionals is a barrier. Adjusting Israeli-brewed technology for the needs, expectations and regulations in different international healthcare systems is also a significant obstacle to market success.
Overcoming the Obstacles
To get promising Israeli HealthTech startups over the hurdles, Israeli non profit Start-Up Nation Central (SNC) creates connections and business engagements between HealthTech-relevant Israeli startups and global players who are looking to access high-quality healthcare innovation or fast, cost-effective R&D and clinical trials validation. With Start-Up Nation Finder, a free online engagement platform for the Israel tech ecosystem, users access data insights and connect to key industry players, enabling them to create business value through collaborations. From in-person to online engagement, SNC is the address for multinational corporations and other stakeholders searching for innovative healthcare solutions as part of its mission to address global challenges.
Dr. Iris Adler, Sector Lead for HealthTech at SNC, is a physician with hands-on experience both in the ER and on humanitarian volunteer missions serving global hotspots facing socio-political crises. Dr. Adler witnessedthe gaps in local and global health systems firsthand, and sees the potential for innovation to address these systemic impediments:
“In my experience, there is a pressing global lack of medical personnel. This human capital gap was exacerbated by pandemic burnout and has persisted, and in fact is worsening. In addition, many countries struggle with providing equal access to healthcare, for example in the United States. It is my firm belief that digitalization and innovation technology can significantly and meaningfully respond to these two major challenges – and that the Israeli ecosystem is equipped to deliver solutions.”
Since the first stage in most relationships between Israeli tech startups and global organizations is a POC, optimizing POC execution has the potential to be a major factor in raising the export success rate of Israeli HealthTech. To that end, SNC recently created The POC Playbook, a guide based on sector analyses and practical insights from more than 250 tech startups and a network of over 1,000 MNCs. The POC Playbook is designed to supply potential corporate partners with the tools necessary to successfully plan and execute POCs with Israeli startups.
Healthcare Starts at Home
In addition to facilitating connecting Israeli HealthTech to the world and propelling access to global markets, SNC set its 2023 sights on improving the local medical system and upskilling its personnel. While the Israeli healthcare system itself is a natural fit for digital health innovation, many of the medical professionals within the system lack the digital literacy needed to leverage new, innovative digital health tools.
SNC conducts roundtables and panels with Israeli medical professionals and stakeholder organizations in order to identify challenges, brainstorm solutions and opportunities, and encourage buy-in. The aim is to improve patient outcomes by bringing the Israeli health system fully into the digital era, As Dr. Adler explains:
“Strengthening startups and helping them enter global markets is our mission at Start-Up Nation Central, but we likewise want to ensure that Israeli tech and innovation are not just exported but are also incorporated into our local health system. Many of the current technologies being developed in the Israeli ecosystem will reduce friction and improve access locally for both patients and medical practitioners. For example, several Israeli startups are developing AI-powered solutions to improve diagnostic precision and speed, while reducing medical error and enhancing individulaization for more effective treatment.”
Israel’s digital health startup ecosystem has the potential to transform healthcare at home and around the world. Encouraging the right connections, partnerships and tech transfers will bring personal, effective and accessible healthcare for all closer than ever before.