With fears of a coronavirus pandemic spreading, the renowned Israeli hospital Sheba Medical Center is taking preventive measures using what it calls a first-of-its-kind approach.
The Tel Aviv-based hospital, which is ranked among the world’s best, is preparing for potential coronavirus cases in Israel through telemedicine. This, according to Sheba, makes it the first hospital in the world with this approach against the virus.
The largest hospital in Israel and the Middle East consists of 200 acres and was ranked No. 10 in the world by Newsweek last year.
Telemedicine can accommodate individuals with less severe symptoms while freeing up hospital facilities for people with more acute conditions, according to hospital staff. And it comes as Israel readies for the return of citizens who were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan, which has reported hundreds of coronavirus cases on board.
The telemedicine treatment consists of a mobile app developed by a New York and Israel-based company, Datos, through which users can report their body temperature readings.
“If and when the virus does come to Israel, we may end up being overwhelmed with a large number of coronavirus cases, all diagnosed at the same time, which could result in both staff and patients being at risk despite taking the most extreme precautions,” Dr. Galia Barkai, head of telemedicine services at Sheba, said in a statement. “Datos’ solution can help us greatly reduce this risk by enabling us to monitor less severe patients outside the hospital, in the relative safety and comfort within their homes, with the telemedicine app enabling us to communicate with them via video whenever necessary.”
No confirmed cases have been reported in Israel by WHO as of February 17.