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Sheba ARC: Accelerate, Redesign, Collaborate

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Sheba Medical Center is Israel’s largest hospital and consistently ranked as one of the best in the world.

The centre is a hub of Israeli innovation, with much of the country’s clinical research taking place within its walls led by some of the world’s leading clinicians.

Located within the vast campus sits the ARC (Accelerate, Redesign, Collaborate) Center for Digital Innovation.

ARC CTO and COO Eran Kacen spent four years at Amdocs building Vodafone Italy’s Big Data solution. Before that, he was in the Israeli military for 25 years, where he redesigned the intelligence agency’s big data infrastructure.

“My role at ARC is to realise the dream of our visionaries and founders, Professor Kreiss and Professor Zimlichman,” Kacen tells Health Tech World.

“They believe that for innovation to make an impact, it needs to happen at an institutional level, where everyone is working towards that goal with a support of a hub around them.

“We built an infrastructure that brings innovation inside the hospital. We bring startups, pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers to Sheba, where they can capitalise on the work of our internal researchers and clinicians.”

The hospital is home to around 2,000 medical doctors and 200 PhDs.

Innovation is ‘bubbling here all the time,’ Kacen says.

A symbiotic relationship sees ARC support startups to build and test their solutions with a view to implementing them in-house or externally. Meanwhile, clinicians get the invaluable opportunity to work with these exciting innovators.

“There is also money that runs through the startups’ activity. But there are many other ways that this relationship can support their work.”

ARC’s innovation infrastructure is built on five main pillars, Kacen says: AI and Big Data, precision medicine, remote care, medical devices and extended reality.

There is of course much overlap between these entities, which span the breadth of health tech innovation in 2022.

Sheba has had a head start in Big Data especially, having worked exclusively in digital since 2004. This methodology has generated huge amounts of information which is harnessed for collaboration with ARC’s partners.

As the likes of Microsoft, IBM and Google enter the healthcare AI space, ARC has troves of data spanning many patients’ lifetimes.

The pandemic encouraged ARC to use this information to its fullest potential.

“Covid gave us a push. It was like a war, and everyone wanted to help. Once we opened the doors, we saw how we could improve on established ways of doing things.

“Coming from my background, I could see the obvious benefit of collecting all the data from all the operating systems, and to have an end-to-end patient journey.

“But it was not commonplace to do this before the pandemic. So it opened our eyes and the researchers learned from it too.”

ARC is now talking to companies from the military industry who are wanting to use their technology for the greater good.

Meanwhile, Kacen is seeing huge promise in the AI imaging area. While the technology may not reveal the full picture, it can offer a starting point to help expedite treatment, Kacen says.

“But there are still a few barriers to overcome. With AI, you’re testing it on a specific use case. But once you try to use it elsewhere, you don’t know whether it will be relevant for the particular patient or specific algorithm.”

Further establishing ARC at the forefront of innovation is the Sheba ARC Space Lab.

In February 2022, Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe conducted six experiments aboard Axiom Space’s first private mission to the International Space Station.

The Space Lab aims to understand the impact of zero gravity on human physiology with a view to developing new, groundbreaking drugs.

“It’s a new initiative and we’re excited about the opportunities that space can bring to medicine,” Kacen says.

Elsewhere, ARC has now entered the main phase of its federated learning project. The team plans to install a federated learning tool across its medical centres network.

The model will allow ARC to overcome regulatory barriers such as GDPR. Once the data is standardised with a specific data model, they can train the algorithm all around the globe without any regulation issues.

“We are also extending our genome activities and building a huge innovation lab at the Cancer Center.

“It’s all integral to ARC’s collaborative mission. Collaboration holds even more power than data itself.”

This is an excerpt from our Special Report – Israel: Health Tech Powerhouse

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