Gone are the days when a discussion about accessibility only revolved around a ramp or an elevator. The accessibility of many services has become virtual and many bodies are deep in the process. Who are the “new accessors” and why has our awareness of the issue increased greatly in recent years?
In recent years, especially during the days of the Coronavirus, awareness of the issue of accessibility has increased greatly. Although this is an issue of social significance, naturally, there are those who know how to collect the money in the field, and thus the increased awareness of the issue gave rise to several projects that work with the aim of making the needs and the various technologies accessible to the population: making websites accessible, making classes at the university accessible, and even a virtual hospital that makes its services available to anyone who cannot physically come and receive the necessary treatment.
Sheba BEYOND The first virtual hospital of its kind in Israel and one of the first hospitals in the world to use telemedicine technologies (remote medicine) has been operating for the past three years.
“The goal is to make medical services accessible to everyone, anywhere and anytime,” explains Dr. Galia Barkai, the director of the hospital.
“We are working to develop new models of medical services that change the paradigm in which a hospital is a place you come to when you need a high-level medical service. The services we develop allow us to break through the boundaries of the physical space. Our mission is to make a wide range of services accessible, at the hospital level, For anyone, anywhere, at any time. Sheba’s professional teams, combined with technologies, make it possible to treat complex patients who require intensive monitoring and treatment, just like in the hospital, in a comfortable home environment.”
What services do you provide?
“We offer home hospitalization services to nursing home residents by the teams that specialize in treating the elderly population in order to prevent their arrival at the hospital and to prevent the risks involved such as infections, falls and deterioration in their condition. Other services that are provided remotely are cardiac rehabilitation, remote physical and cognitive rehabilitation, home hospitalization For women with postpartum depression and thus preventing their separation from the baby, remote monitoring for pregnant women at risk and more.”
How many users who need accessibility use the service?
“Approximately 500 patients each month use the various Sheba services in Yond. About 40,000 telemedicine consultations are held at Sheba a year.”
Why exactly in recent years have we been required to address this issue?
“The population of Israel is aging. There are currently 1.2 million elderly people in Israel and the number is increasing. The elderly suffer from many chronic diseases and need multiple hospitalizations, at the same time, the number of hospital beds is unable to keep up with the rate of population growth and aging and there is already a hospitalization crisis that will only get worse. In addition , there is an understanding that treatment at home, in the natural environment, is more appropriate for many patients and reduces the risk of hospitalization. At the same time, technological development today enables good remote communication, continuous monitoring and early detection of deterioration.”
Dr. Barkai is aware of the fact that the world is moving in the direction of personalized services, accessible to the home, with minimal friction. She believes that the year 2023 will be marked by accessibility. “Global trends indicate work and activity from home, digital transformation in all life services, including remote medical care . 2023 will continue the acceleration of this phenomenon.”
If the coronavirus played a significant role in the acceleration of digital accessibility, now, when we have learned to live with the disease and it has become part of our daily routine, the question arises whether it is possible to return to routine and return the sick to the hospitals.
“Absolutely not,” concludes Dr. Barkai. “We see that there are services, related for example to rehabilitation and remote monitoring, that it is better to do them from home in an extended manner, and thus get a more accurate picture of the situation than a physical “once in a…” examination at the hospital, which is less comprehensive, and thus gives a less complete picture of the patients. In addition, apart from the fact that there are services in which telemedicine is preferable, in general the global trends point to more processes from home or in a convenient location, which can save the travel, parking, time that is lost. In a world that will become more congested, crowded, busy, services from home, when possible, will be much more expensive.”
Digital accessibility also has less good sides, for example social isolation, the patient’s tendency to depression.
“It is true that in digitization there is a certain risk of losing the human “warmth” or “touch”. On the other hand, the same digitization allows the services to be as personal as possible – by being personalized – to you, your home, your comfort zone. In addition, some of the models of the treatment are hybrid, that is, they combine physical meetings between the remote treatments.
Also, studies conducted during the Corona period and satisfaction questionnaires carried out by Sheba Beyond throughout the year demonstrate high satisfaction and a sense of establishing a personal relationship with the therapist in video call sessions, sometimes even more so than a physical meeting in the clinic The other son due to the lack of need for a mask.”
How might a virtual hospital replace the personal contact, the direct look and the touch of the doctor as part of a medical diagnosis? It might not cause errors?
“The personal relationship and the direct look are not damaged, on the contrary, if they are already enhanced by a video call. Medical diagnosis, whether physical or up close, is done, among other things, using instruments and measurements. Now that we have the technologies to do it remotely – for example, a lung or ear examination, they will be as accurate as Physical examination. Another example, with a high-quality camera it will be possible to diagnose with great precision in a remote consultation with a doctor. A traveler who is abroad and has a certain worm in his skin, which he took a picture of and sent to the doctor.
The personal relationship with the patient remains the same whether in a physical meeting or a remote meeting. Also, sometimes the very possibility for the therapist to see the patient in the home environment allows for tailored feedback to the patient. For example, in Sheba Beyond’s remote rehabilitation program, the therapist helps the patient adjust his environment to his functional state and also adjusts the treatment plan to the environment where the patient is. So actually performing the treatment in the patient’s natural place can help him return to functioning faster in his natural environment.”
Dekel Skoop, CEO of accessiBe (photo: Public Relations)
“15% of the world’s population and one out of every four people in the State of Israel lives with one form of disability or another, this is a market share that no business can ignore,” says Dekal Scope, CEO of accessiBe.
“For people with disabilities, surfing the Internet can be accompanied by There are few obstacles that will make it difficult and even prevent them from enjoying digital content and performing daily activities such as purchasing products, making payments or registering for one or another service. These difficulties can be reflected in a website that is not built in such a way that communicates properly with software such as screen readers for the blind or dedicated keyboards for people with limited mobility or even a website that contains flashing banners and sharp movements that can cause an epileptic attack.”
Exsive’s services are partly based on AI and partly done manually to make websites accessible to people with disabilities. With the help of services and products based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, the company enables every company and every business, even the smallest among them, without many means and technological capabilities, to make digital assets accessible for people who live with disabilities and to maintain them as those that comply with the required regulation.
“Exsibi has over -165 thousand customers worldwide, from huge brands like BMW, OREO and NBC to small businesses. These are customers who purchase the products and services we develop so that people with disabilities can enjoy their content, products and services online in an equal and user-friendly way. It is enough to look at over a billion daily charges of our products to understand the scope of the wide use made of the company’s products.”
Although there has been growth in the percentage of the elderly population in Israel, and they enter the definition of disability due to a decrease in their function, Scope does not think that the number of people who need more accessibility has increased. “The growing need for accessibility stems from the awareness of the issue that is arising, the fact that we are more and the regulation. Many countries, Israel among them, enact laws that are aimed at preventing discrimination of different populations, including the populations of people living with disabilities and maintaining their right to equal access to the Internet resource.”
Tom Livne, CEO of Verbit
One of the ways to create digital accessibility is with the help of voice artificial intelligence, which makes it possible to close the gap in access and use of digital spaces. Tom Livne, CEO of Verbit, explains that the company’s working method combines artificial intelligence with human intelligence.
“We make content, events, lessons and experiences more accessible and equal for everyone. The transcription, subtitling, translation and voice description services enable equal participation for people with hearing and visual impairments. Verbit’s solutions not only help businesses and institutions in their need to comply with accessibility regulations, but also help businesses make their information accessible and usable for the maximum target audience.”
The service is used by over 3,000 businesses and institutions in the USA, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and Israel.
“Professionals and executives in the economy have identified the challenges that prevent us from providing equal and accessible environments,” Livne says. “In today’s reality, the importance of accessibility is supreme and there is no forgiveness for companies that do not accessibility. The principles of DEIA (diversity, equality, inclusion and accessibility) currently lead the companies’ priorities, and from time to time additional tools are added and additional integrations are built that help make different platforms accessible. Professionals and institutional leaders have seen what is possible in the last two years. We also see increased regulation on the subject in both the US and Europe. Accessibility, inclusion and diversity are important to consumers and personnel, and companies that do not invest in this in 2023 are expected to feel the effects.”
Accessibility also manages to save time in most cases. An example of this can also be found in the way medicines and pharmaceutical products are purchased in pharmacies and physical pharmacy chains. You can’t forget the searches for parking, waiting in the long lines, the discussions with the pharmacists, the whispers so that all those waiting in line don’t hear what I have and the discovery at the end that the medicine is not in stock, before we set out on another journey to another pharmacy.
May it be for medicine
“You can save all the difficulties of purchasing at a physical pharmacy and do it in an easy and convenient digital way,” says Ben Singer, CEO of Medz. “The products arrive at home within two hours. From extensive experience in the worlds of pharmacies, we discovered that the need to receive the medicine immediately is very great. When we get sick, we get sick now and we want to get the medicine and pharmaceutical products, now.”
Singer also believes that the number of people in need of assistance has not increased, but the range of solutions has increased. “The transition to digital purchasing allows customers to receive the product or service at their doorstep. The corona epidemic accelerated processes “and forced” the service providers to think of new ways to provide the service. On the client’s side, awareness “and market education” has grown and become a new service standard. The way of purchasing medicines has changed significantly, from an active effort to purchase medicines, to the challenges of accessibility, we quickly moved medicines to the doorstep or the office.