The Israeli medical scene has a moment.
Healthy.io is just one of the startups headquartered in Tel Aviv that enters the US healthcare market.
The company, which is developing a technology that makes it easier for consumers to take urine tests at home, already has relationships with US healthcare systems, including Geisinger. Their concept provides an alternative to traditional methods of urine analysis, in which a person takes the time to go to the laboratory or doctor’s office.
With the Healthy.io kit, the patient self-tests himself at home using the supplied FDA-approved stick, which can be immersed in a cup with urine. From there, the smartphone’s camera scans the results. Healthy.io claims that its computer vision algorithms and calibration method make accurate testing as easy as taking a selfie.
The doctor or healthcare system decides whether the results will be uploaded directly to the patient’s electronic medical record so that the doctor can view them immediately, or if patients can have direct access and view the results immediately.
Healthy.io looks for signs of early kidney disease and urinary tract infections. In Israel and the UK, they are currently using technology to identify possible pregnancy complications. They are currently moving towards launching this in the USA.
Co-founder and CEO Jonathan Adiri says his company is helping usher in a “medical selfie era.” This is due to the inspiration of the business model. Adiri and his co-founders, Rowy Salomon and Sahar Mendelovits, foresaw that smartphone cameras will become much more sophisticated, in part so that consumers continue to take selfies. So they began to think that they could use it for medical use cases.
Healthy.io is not the first business to turn a smartphone into a medical device. But the company goes further than most, given its relationship with hospitals and regulatory permissions, which Adiri partially attributes to his Israeli origin.
Israeli Business Ecosystem
Adiri said Israeli space entrepreneurs are extremely focused on machine learning technology. Unlike the United States, where training data is extremely difficult to access because it is stored in disparate systems, Israeli founders can use a variety of structured data to teach their algorithms.
“Our healthcare system has been digital for 20 years,” said Adiri, who previously worked as a technical adviser to former Israeli President Shimon Peres. “It creates data and structured opportunities.”
More from Disruptor 50:
Meet CNBC 2020 Disruptor 50 Companies
Ginkgo Bioworks Covid-19 Test Expansion CEO: “If we try, we can win”
How GoodRx Builds a $ 2.8 Billion Business Helping Consumers Find Drug Discounts
Adiri said the country has also benefited from its previous entrepreneurial successes. To date, its largest home series are Wix (unveiled in 2013), Mobileye (sold by Intel in 2017 for $ 15.3 billion) and Waze (sold by Google for $ 1 billion). According to Adiri, many of the early teams from these companies are currently making their way into healthcare or investing in healthcare business.
Today, healthcare technology has quickly become one of the most attractive markets for entrepreneurs in Israel. Its startups, including Healthy.io, Tytocare, and K Health, have attracted investments from customers in the US, UK, and other large markets. Healthy.io has raised $ 95 million since its founding in 2013 from investors from Israel and the United States. This year, Healthy.io and K Health entered the list of the most innovative startups in the world, released by CNBC 2020 Disruptor 50, which was published on Tuesday.
Veteran medical technology investor Dr. Peter Fitzgerald said he now flies to Israel every month to meet with local founders and offer mentoring. Fitzgerald, co-founder of Triventures venture capital firm, believes the country is now a “digital healthcare center” because of the high quality of its talents. “This is connectedness – because so many people served in the army together – and the concentration of people who are so hardworking in one place,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“It seems that many of the best professionals in Israel are working in the healthcare industry,” added Dr. Daniel Kraft, a Silicon Valley medical scientist and investor on the board of Healthy.io. “Israel has a good reputation right now, both in terms of starting thinking and solving really complex problems.”
Covid-19 Health Technology Boom
Many healthcare companies, including Healthy.io, are poised to succeed in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Using its technology, consumers do not have to go to the laboratory or doctor’s office to do the test personally. All this risks being exposed to the virus. But Adiri said that he did not rest on his laurels. Many companies in its space saw rapid growth in the spring, but this is already starting to slow down, as patients feel more comfortable seeking medical help in person.
“We cannot calm down,” Adiri said. “Everything rose very quickly, but I think we will see some weakening.”
For this reason, he advises startups to take advantage of this moment, but acknowledges that they will still need to prove that their solutions are a viable alternative to traditional methods. To maintain momentum, “we will have to work 10 times more,” he said.