On the first afternoon, the U-M SPH team moved from the Clalit Research Institute building to the Clalit Health Services headquarters. There we listened to several speakers from Clalit about some of the specific projects on which they are working.
First, Dr. Ziv Rosenbaum, director of Medical Technology at Clalit, spoke about the ways in which Clalit works to effectively evaluate and implement medical technologies for Clalit Health Services, which is the second largest HMO worldwide.
Second, we heard from Dr. Diane Levin-Zamir, who serves as the National Director of the Department of Health Education and Promotion at Clalit. Although Levin moved to Israel many years ago, she spoke fondly about her memories of visiting northern Michigan in her youth. It was clear that her personal connection to Michigan made the possibility of collaboration that much sweeter. Levin spoke about some of the most critical health challenges that are presently in Israel (such as childhood obesity, tobacco control, and health literacy issues) and discussed some of the health promotion interventions she and her team have developed and implemented throughout the country. It was encouraging to hear about the work already being done, and was particularly valuable for the U-M SPH delegation to learn about specific problems that could most benefit from joint research efforts.
Third, we heard from Lior Wolff, who heads the development of e-health services for Clalit. He introduced us to the organization’s existing telemedicine projects Clalit now features a free service that allows parents to video chat with board-certified pediatricians on a specialized smartphone application. As Wolff explained, the app allows doctors to see a child’s rash or other physical symptoms through a teleconsultation. Telemedicine in this way has proved to be a very popular form of doctor-patient communication in Israel. Wolff and his team have also produced videos that provide simple explanations for complex medical conditions and procedures, which doctors can send to their patients following an in-person consultation. He explained that “crowdsourcing for health,”—where ideas are attained through contributions from a large online community—has been a significant contributor to the work Clalit has done in e-health. Wolff’s work with Clalit emphasizes innovation, communication, access, and patient agency.
Each of these individual presentations demonstrated that there is much to learn from each other. Public health here in Israel can inform public health practices in the United States and vice versa.