Hospital safety came to the fore during the coronavirus crisis in Israel. While people ill with the virus were treated in designated, isolated wards, many others were hesitant to seek out medical treatment for fear of contracting Covid-19 during their hospital stay.

This dilemma highlighted the need to make hospitals safer for patients, healthcare workers and their immediate surroundings. The future is likely to hold a slew of improvements geared at doing exactly that, and over here at ISRAEL21c we gathered 10 ways in which Israeli innovations and technologies can aid in this battle.

  1. Air filtration and disinfection systems/Aura Air
Aura Air’s filtration and disinfection device. Photo: courtesy

Israeli startup Aura Air provides an air purification system that filters and disinfects indoor air, cleaning it of dust, pollen and bad odors and neutralizing viruses and bacteria.

It is now being piloted at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, where it is being installed in rooms for medical staff, Covid-19 patients and at-risk patients. Clinical and microbiological trials are also being conducted.

“The goal is to target solutions for closed space infections in general, and the coronavirus in particular,” says Roy Friedberg, vice president of Aura Air.

  1. Medical devices cybersecurity/Cynerio
Illustrative photo of connected hospital medical devices via Shutterstock.com

Corona isn’t the only sort of virus hospitals have to worry about: hackers attacking medical devices is also a major threat to patients.

Israeli startup Cynerio works with hospitals to protect their networks, guarding devices such as ventilators and drug-infusion monitors as well as personal data against malicious cyberattacks.

Launched in 2017, Cynerio is already working with Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa. It is also offering the healthcare industry a Covid-19 response toolkit that includes ways to safely overcome equipment shortages and work from home.

  1. Bacteria-proof bedding/Sonovia

Even though hospital bedsheets and gowns generally contain antibacterial coatings, these often wear off after several washes, leaving the dirty laundry to transfer dangerous bacteria to millions of patients each year.

Israeli startup Sonovia has developed a way to bacteria-proof hospital fabrics in a way that lasts up to 100 washing cycles. It does this by inserting antibacterial chemicals into the molecular structure of fabrics without a need for chemical binding, making it more durable and environmentally friendly. During the Covid-19 outbreak, its antimicrobial fabric was being utilized for facemasks, but this could be expanded to bed linen and gowns.

  1. Antimicrobial coating/Bio-Fence
Firefighters wearing protective clothes disinfect the entrance of the emergency room of Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

It’s not only bedlinen that bacteria stick to – walls and floors can be pretty filthy too.

Bio-Fence is a company that develops antimicrobial surface coatings to kill bacteria in food production environments. With the outbreak of corona, however, the company began testing its product against viruses, and discovered that it can also destroy the herpes virus, which is more durable than Covid-19.

Bio-Fence’s solution is based on stabilized active chlorine, meaning that it can last for long periods of time on walls, floors and other surfaces. It is not yet commercially available but expected to launch in the coming months.

  1. Ventilation hood/Tamar Robotics

People suffering from Covid-19 often need to be treated with oxygen. That can be done in several ways – from nasal prongs at one end of the spectrum to mechanical ventilation on the other. “In between” methods are not generally used since they carry a risk that the patient will transmit the virus during treatment.

This issue led Tamar Robotics, a neurosurgical robotic technology company, to develop a ventilation hood that allows patients to be treated with oxygen noninvasively.

The easy-to-use plastic hood covers the upper part of a patient’s body. The air inside is cleaned using standard filters while creating a safe barrier between the patient and healthcare workers.

  1. Tap-water-turned-disinfectant solution/Bar-Ilan University

Chemists at Bar-Ilan University have developed a solution in which tap water can be turned into a powerful yet environmentally friendly disinfectant on demand.

Originally aimed at killing bacteria, the skin-friendly solution was recently proven effective in neutralizing corona-type viruses.

Dr. Eran Avraham, left, and Dr. Izaak Cohen from Bar-Ilan University walk through the sanitation tunnel at the entrance to Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv. Photo by Yoni Reif​

It is now being used in a sanitation tunnel developed by Israeli company RD PACK that sprays incomers with the solution to provide protection upon entering public spaces. Currently piloted at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium, it could also be used at places such as schools and hospitals.

  1. Face recognition tech/AnyVision

A serious issue in battling coronavirus in hospitals is the fact that corona-positive staff members can unknowingly spread the virus.

A face-recognition solution from Israeli company AnyVision may help. AnyVision is one of a dozen technologies installed in Sheba Medical Center’s ICU room of the future, HealthSpace 2030.

Using the hospital’s regular surveillance cameras, AnyVision can reveal whether a corona-positive staff member interacted with other people, and if so for how long and at what distance.

  1. Personal robot/Temi

Also at HealthSpace 2030, Sheba utilized the Temi personal robot to show how it operates in video communication between healthcare workers and patients as well as in remote medical examinations.

Temi launched in 2019 and is mainly intended for home use, but its array of sensors and cameras means that the personal robot can also navigate through hospital corridors, taking a load off healthcare workers and patients alike.

  1. Wastewater management/Paulee CleanTec

What goes on inside the hospital also affects people in the vicinity. The waste from hospitals – antibiotics, drugs, viruses and bacteria – all go down the drain into the local sewage system, and from there can pollute groundwater and endanger residents.

To battle this, Israeli company Paulee CleanTec is offering its waste management system that is usually used for municipal sewage treatment. At hospital sewage points, the technology could sterilize what passes through and ensure that no dangerous materials flow over.

“What we can say with absolute certainty is that it would reduce to zero all the pollutants, both chemical and biological, that are being released into the municipal systems,” says Paulee CEO Ilan Levy.

Last January, Paulee received a strategic investment commitment of $23.5 million led by Doral Renewable Energy Resources Group of Ramat Gan.

  1. Clean air ventilation system/Urecsys

Even before Covid-19 broke out, the quality and safety of the air we breathe posed a challenge for public health and welfare. And while many buildings are equipped with filters and fresh-air systems, they can’t battle all the gaseous pollutants and ultra-fine particles that waft in from outside.

This is what Israeli startup Urecsys addresses with a solution that uses big-data analysis and machine learning to predict air pollution levels both inside buildings and in their surroundings. It enables existing ventilation systems to draw in outdoor air only when pollution levels are low, ensuring that people breathe in the cleanest air possible.

Urecsys plans on installing its solution in single-tenant large buildings, but its technology could also be utilized in hospital settings.