By Dr. Motti Haimi

Telehealth is the delivery of healthcare services by healthcare professionals through information and communication technologies, where distance separates the participants. In recent years, with the development of the internet and communication infrastructure, telehealth has become a convenient and safe method for patients to obtain reliable information and medical consultation.

There are many benefits in using telehealth, especially in routine care and in cases where a direct patient-healthcare provider interaction is not mandatory.

Since December 2019, the world has been facing an epidemic threat to global health, caused by the novel coronavirus, “SARS-CoV-2“.

Elderly people and those who have underlying medical conditions are at greater risk of developing an intensive and severe form of the disease. On the other hand, people who are not currently infected with COVID-19 but are at greater risk of “catching” the infection (e.g., elderly people and people with underlying diseases), should be able to receive routine healthcare without being at risk from exposure to others.

COVID-19 has catalyzed the rapid use of information communication technologies such as telehealth and virtual software platforms to deliver healthcare at a distance.

Telehealth has become an important tool for the general population, healthcare providers, and patients with COVID-19, enabling patients to maintain real-time contact with healthcare providers for advice on their health problems, especially useful when in quarantine. Remote medical treatment, using telemedicine services, can promote the patients’ access to professional medical advice without having to wait for long periods of time. It reduces unnecessary visits to clinics and hospitals, both in normal times and especially during the pandemic.

Among the most significant benefits of telehealth technologies will be the ways in which they will enable healthcare providers to effectively address and treat chronic diseases, which are one of the major health problems nowadays, and the largest cause of death. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults with complex medical diseases had  limited access to healthcare. The elderly population will particularly benefit from telehealth, which has the potential to increase equality in care, but which can also further exacerbate disparities.

The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated  access to care, especially among the elderly population, due to reduced clinic visits, transport restrictions, and other societal measures to mitigate the pandemic. Age-related barriers such as lack of exposure and familiarity to new technology were also contributing factors.

Nevertheless, there is a misconception that older people do not have internet or network connection, which they need for telehealth solutions. In fact, most of them do have such access, but have difficulties using the internet. Several studies also described a successful experience for older adults when special equipment was provided and installed, enabling them to experience home telehealth services.

In this systematic review, we explored the availability, application, and implementation of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic designed for the aging population (age 65 and over), who needed them the most during this challenging period.

In our analysis, a total of 5319 articles were identified in the database, of which 3225 articles were left after deleting the duplicates. Following the removal of duplicate studies and screening titles and abstracts of the different study reports, we finally appraised 40 relevant studies in full. 11 studies were finally included after reviewing the full texts.

Our study shows that although older patients may benefit the most from using home telehealth visits, which improves their access to care, paradoxically there are still not enough telehealth solutions aimed at this specific population. It seems that not enough efforts were made.

Many older adults may have trouble accessing telemedical services. Policy makers should recognize and bridge this digital divide.

We suggest using simple, uncomplicated devices (such as tablets), supplied to the elderly  enabling them to easily communicate with their physicians or other healthcare providers. Lectures and demonstrations on telehealth opportunities given to the general population can help address this digital divide. Another option is to train and prepare special health-related or technology-related personnel who can visit the elderly patients several times a month and help them operate the telehealth devices, thus connecting them to their remote healthcare professionals.

We believe that appropriate and successful digital solutions should be tailored and developed specifically for the elderly sub-groups, and aim to address their needs, desires, and everyday activities, not only during pandemics. As demonstrated in this systematic review, despite the hesitations around operating telehealth solutions for older patients, it can be done and is effective.

This article is in memory of my mother, Rachel Haimi, who passed away one year ago, not from COVID-19, but due to the lack of appropriate medical attention caused by the COVID-19 restrictions.

Dr. Motti Haimi

Dr. Motti Haimi, M.D. Ph.D., MHA, is an experienced pediatrician and pediatric onco-hematologist, and medical director, working at Clalit Health Services since 2007.

He has a demonstrated history of working in the hospital and health care industry. Skilled in clinical research, medical education, epidemiology, pediatrics, hematology, telehealth, and anti-healthcare disparities activist.

He is a clinical lecturer at the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology; he is also a research associate and lecturer at the School of Public Health, University of Haifa, and at HIT (Holon Technological Institute).

He earned his M.D. from the medical school of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He also got a Ph.D. degree, and master’s degree (cum laude) in Health Administration and Health Care Management from the School of Public Health at Haifa University.

His areas of research and interest include pediatric hematology, dysmorphology and familial genetic syndromes, hereditary predisposition for cancer, gastroenterology and nutrition in children, and decision making of the primary care doctor.

During recent years, he is especially interested in the field of telemedicine and health-informatics, pediatric telemedicine services, and especially finding telehealth solutions for the elderly population and other populations who may have difficulties in accessing digital solutions.

He is part of the Healthcare Disparities and Digital Health working group of the International Society for Telemedicine & e-health

Dr. Haimi recently received the Prof. Haim Doron Award for outstanding Ph.D. thesis at the 14th Conference on Health Policy of the National Institute for Health Services Research.

Prof Anat Gesser-Edelsburg

Anat Gesser-Edelsburg, Ph.D. is an associate professor, the head of Health Promotion Program, School of Public Health, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, and the founding director of the Health and Risk Communication Research Center at University of Haifa. During 2020, Anat was a visiting scholar at the School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Gesser-Edelsburg is also a researcher at the Center for Evaluation of Health Promotion Interventions and at the Emili Sagol Creative Arts Therapies Research Center, University of Haifa.

She has won or collaborated in many research grants, and has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Gesser-Edelsburg has a B.A. and Ph.D. from the Faculty of Arts, Tel Aviv University.

Her areas of research include health and risk communication, positive deviance, social marketing, persuasive communication, health-promotion programs, entertainment-education, and qualitative research. She investigates a variety of health-related issues, including emerging infectious disease communication, vaccination compliance, drugs and alcohol abuse, drunk-driving, sex education, nutrition, and prevention of hospital-acquired infections.

The full article published in Health Informatics Journal, can be found here.

A collaboration between researchers from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and the University of Debrecen, Hungary has led to the development of a novel experimental method that makes it possible to track the motion of a twin boundary at nanometer size scales and microsecond time scales. The paper, published in Advanced Functional Materials, was led by Professor Doron Shilo and the Ph.D. candidate Emil Bronstein of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, and Professor Ronen Talmon of the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical & Computer Engineering.

Twin boundary motion governs a highly prevalent deformation mechanism called “twinning.” This mechanism is found in a variety of materials (e.g., magnesium, titanium) and material classes (e.g., shape memory alloys, minerals, ferroelectrics). Because of this, understanding the behavior of twin boundaries has a crucial scientific significance and a direct influence on the comprehension of electro/magneto/thermo-mechanical responses of the aforementioned materials, and many more.

It has long been thought that when a material is rapidly loaded (e.g., by a strong, rapid electric impulse), a twin boundary propagates continuously at a velocity determined by the external loading. Contrarily, when a material is slowly loaded (e.g., by slow compression), twin boundary motion is discrete (discontinuous), and is characterized by short durations at which the twin boundary rapidly propagates separated by long durations at which the twin boundary is static. Despite being the same process, the link between the different behaviors (i.e., the responses to slow and rapid loading) has not previously been considered.

The researchers, however, developed a novel experimental method that enables direct tracking of the twin boundary motion by measuring the magnetic dipole changes of the material. The developed method can track the twin boundary during events that last a few microseconds (a millionth of a second) and have a characteristic size of nanometers. As a result, they provide direct measurements of the motion at unprecedented length and time scales. Analysis of the experimental results indicated, for the first time, that twin boundary motion under both slow and rapid loading can be explained by the same theory. The findings of this research have fundamental scientific importance, as well as a potential to improve actuators (motors) that rely on this process and are used in automobiles, aircraft, spacecraft, and biomedical applications.

Now, the researchers work on the development of data-driven, machine learning methods for the analysis of measured signals that will allow similar studies in a variety of materials and phenomena at short analysis times.

What do ultrasound imaging of a fetus, cellular mobile communication, micro motors, and low-energy-consumption computer memories have in common? All of these technologies are based on ferroelectric materials, which are characterized by a strong correlation between their atomic structure and the electrical and mechanical properties.

Technion – Israel Institute of Technology researchers have succeeded in changing the properties of ferroelectric materials by vacating a single oxygen atom from the original structure. The breakthrough could pave the way for the development of new technologies. The research was headed by Assistant Professor Yachin Ivry of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, accompanied by postdoctoral researcher Dr. Hemaprabha Elangovan and Ph.D. student Maya Barzilay, and was published in ACS Nano. It is noted that engineering an individual oxygen vacancy poses a considerable challenge due to the light weight of oxygen atoms.

Asst. Prof. Yachin Ivry

Asst. Prof. Yachin Ivry

In ferroelectric materials, a slight shift of the atoms causes significant changes in the electric field and in the contraction or expansion of the material. This effect is the result of the fact that the basic repeating unit in the material contains atoms that are organized in an asymmetric structure.

In order to explain this further, the researchers use the seminal ferroelectric material, barium titanate, the atoms of which form a cubic-like lattice structure. In these materials, a unique phenomenon occurs: the titanium atom draws away from the oxygen atoms. Since titanium is positively charged and oxygen is negatively charged, this separation creates polarization, or in other words, an electric dipole moment.

A cubic lattice has six faces, so the charged atoms move into one of six possibilities. In different parts of the material, a large number of neighboring atoms shift in the same direction, and polarization in each such area, which is known as a ferroelectric domain, is uniform.

Traditional technologies are based on the electric field created in those domains. However, in recent years, a great deal of effort has been directed at minimizing the device size and using the borders, or walls, between the domains rather than the domains themselves, and thus converting the devices from three-dimensional structures to two-dimensional structures.

Dr. Hemaprabha Elangovan, Asst. Prof. Yachin Ivry and Ph.D. student Maya Barzilay

Dr. Hemaprabha Elangovan, Asst. Prof. Yachin Ivry and Ph.D. student Maya Barzilay

The research community has remained divided in opinion as to what happens in the two-dimensional world of the domain walls: How is the border between two domains with different electric polarization stabilized? Is the polarization in domain walls different to the polarization in the domains themselves? Can the properties of the domain wall be controlled in a localized manner? The great interest in addressing these questions stems from the fact that a ferroelectric material in its natural form is an excellent electric insulator. However, the domain walls may be conducting electrically, thus forming a two-dimensional object that are controllable by will. This phenomenon encompasses the potential to reduce significantly the energy consumption of data storage and data processing devices.

In this project, the researchers succeeded in deciphering the atomic structure and electric field deployment in domain walls at the atomic scale. In their recent article, they corroborate the assumption that domain walls allow for the existence of a two-dimensional border between domains as a result of partial oxygen vacancy in areas that are common to two domains, thus enabling greater flexibility in the deployment of the local electric field. They succeeded in engineeringly inducing an individual oxygen atom vacancy and demonstrated that this action creates opposing dipoles and greater electric symmetry – a unique topological structure called a quadrupole.

With the aid of computer simulations by Shi Liu of Westlake University in China, the researchers demonstrated that engineering the oxygen atom vacancy has a great impact on the electrical properties of the material not only at the atomic scale, but also at the scale that is relevant to electronic devices – for example, in terms of electrical conductivity. The significance is that the present scientific achievement is likely to be of help in miniaturizing devices of this kind as well as reducing their energy consumption.

In the micrograph: Image of the structure before (on the right) and after (left) removing an oxygen atom

In the micrograph: Image of the structure before (on the right) and after (left) removing an oxygen atom

In collaboration with researchers from the Negev Nuclear Research Center, the Technion research group also demonstrated that oxygen vacancies can be engineered by exposing the material to electronic radiation. Consequently, in addition to the technological potential of the discovery in electronics, it may also be possible to utilize the effect for radiation detectors, allowing for the early detection – and prevention – of nuclear accidents, such as the one that happened in 2011 in Fukushima, Japan.

The research, which was carried out at the Electron Microscopy Center in the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, was funded by the Israel Science Foundation and the Pazy Foundation. The Nano and Quantum Functional Structures Laboratory, headed by Asst. Prof. Ivry, is supported by the Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program.

For the article in ACS Nano click here

Researchers at the Technion – Israel institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers from CNRS, recently published findings about the development of an artificial molecule that may inhibit the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The molecule breaks down the toxic chemical complex Cu–Aβ, thus inhibiting the cell death that is thought to be related to Alzheimer’s. The study was led by Professor Galia Maayan and doctoral student Anastasia Behar from the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry, in collaboration with Prof. Christelle Hureau from the Laboratoire de Chimie de Coordination du CNRS, Toulouse, France.

Prof. Galia Maayan

Prof. Galia Maayan

Copper ions are a key component of the structure and function of various cells in the body. But their accumulation can lead to cell toxicity, causing dangerous conditions such as oxidative stress, cardiovascular disorders, and degenerative diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s.

One of the mechanisms involved in the development of Alzheimer’s is the formation of free radicals that damage the brain cells. These are oxidizing agents formed, among other things, by Cu–Aβ, a complex of copper and amyloid beta.

It is already known that the breakdown of this complex, and the removal of copper from the amyloid, prevents cell death, followed by the inhibition of the disease. The extraction of the copper is done by chelation – using molecules that bind the copper ions and extract them from the amyloid.

Doctoral student Anastasia Behar

Doctoral student Anastasia Behar

However, this is not a simple challenge, because the chelators must meet several critical chemical and kinetic conditions, including stability and resistance to oxidation-reduction reactions. It is also important that the chelator does not bind zinc ions during the copper extraction process, as they are also essential for neuron function (but do not cause toxicity when they are bound to the amyloid); if the chelator does not bind the zinc, it can continue to bind the copper ions, but if it binds zinc, copper binding will be inhibited.

The Technion and CNRS researchers report in the Angewandte Chemie on the successful development of a new artificial chelator that meets all these requirements. The chelator, called P3, is a peptide-like water-soluble synthetic molecule that performs its task selectively; it strongly binds copper and forms the complex CuP3, extracting the copper from the amyloid. By doing so, it inhibits and even suppresses the formation of harmful oxidizing agents, without creating new oxidation processes. Although it binds zinc ions and even extracts them from the amyloid faster than it extracts the copper ions, the binding to zinc is weaker, making the zinc-amyloid complex unstable, so in practice P3 mostly binds copper ions.

In the figure, from left to right: Oxidation of copper ions in an amyloid complex (that also contains zinc ions) leads to the formation of a toxic amyloid complex and harmful oxidizing agents (ROS). The water-soluble chelator extracts the copper ion from the amyloid complex by creating a new, stable complex, and inhibits the formation of harmful oxidizing agents (NO ROS), thereby neutralizing amyloid toxicity.

In the figure, from left to right: Oxidation of copper ions in an amyloid complex (that also contains zinc ions) leads to the formation of a toxic amyloid complex and harmful oxidizing agents (ROS). The water-soluble chelator extracts the copper ion from the amyloid complex by creating a new, stable complex, and inhibits the formation of harmful oxidizing agents (NO ROS), thereby neutralizing amyloid toxicity.

Click here for the paper in Angewandte Chemie

Technion researchers have presented an innovative method for the formation of nanowires. In it, the nanowires form within line defects that exist in metals. Such defects are known as dislocations. This is the first time that dislocation lines in a material of one kind serve as a template for the growth of a different inorganic material in the form of nanowires. The study, which was published in PNAS, was led by Professor Boaz Pokroy and Ph.D. student Lotan Portal of the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute.

Professor Boaz Pokroy

Professor Boaz Pokroy

Dislocations are a significant phenomenon in materials science since they affect the material’s properties on both the macro- and microscales. For example, a high dislocation density increases a metal’s strength and hardness. The dislocation edges on metal surfaces and the atoms in their proximity tend to be more chemically activated compared to other atoms in the material and tend to facilitate various chemical reactions, such as corrosion and catalysis.

Lotan Portal

Lotan Portal

The researchers in Prof. Pokroy’s group created nanowires of gold-cyanide complex from classic Au-Ag alloy. In professional terminology, they synthesized inorganic gold(I)-cyanide (AuCN) systems in the shape of nanowires, using an autocatalytic reaction (i.e. through the acceleration of a reaction by one of its reactants). Gold-cyanide complex is used in numerous fields including ammonia gas detection (NH3 sensors), catalysis (acceleration) of water-splitting reactions, and others.

In black and white: Scanning electron microscope image of a lateral section of a sample that contains a gold-cyanide nanowire created from Au-Ag (to a depth of 2 microns from the surface of the sample).

In black and white: Scanning electron microscope image of a lateral section of a sample that contains a gold-cyanide nanowire created from Au-Ag (to a depth of 2 microns from the surface of the sample).

In the process developed by the researchers, nanowires crystallize at the dislocation ends on the surface of the original gold-silver (Au-Ag) alloy, and the final structure obtained is classic nanoporous (sponge-like) gold, with a layer of nanowires emerging from it. Formation of the nanowires occurs during the classic selective dealloying process that separates the silver from the system and forms the nanoporous gold and is achieved only when the dislocation density exceeds a critical value, as presented in the kinetic model developed and demonstrated in the article.

The model provides a possible route for growing one-dimensional inorganic complexes while controlling the growth direction, shape, and morphology of a crystal according to the original alloy’s slip system. As mentioned, this scientific and technological achievement has numerous potential applications.

In the figure: A schematic drawing depicting 1D nucleation and growth of a gold-cyanide nanowire along a dislocation in the original alloy during the classic selective dealloying process.

In the figure: A schematic drawing depicting 1D nucleation and growth of a gold-cyanide nanowire along a dislocation in the original alloy during the classic selective dealloying process.

The research was sponsored by a European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept Grant (“np-Gold” project) as part of the Horizon 2020 Program.

For the article in PNAS click here

The first cohort graduated from the Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology in a moving ceremony held earlier this week in China, where 149 students received their bachelor’s degrees.

הבוגרים בטקס

GTIIT graduates

“GTIIT is the first and only endeavor of its kind in the mutual history of China and Israel,” Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan, who joined the ceremony via videoconferencing, said at the event. “Two ancient nations, which share the values of knowledge, scholarship, and innovation for thousands of years, have bridged across geography and language to create the marvel that we celebrate today. He went on to say that the language of science “bridges geographies and cultures to connect all people for the benefit of humanity. It is this language, that you, dear graduates, have acquired at GTIIT.”

נשיא הטכניון פרופ' אורי סיון מברך את הבוגרים בטקס מחיפה

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan speaks at the first GTIIT commencement 

Prof. Sivan congratulated the graduates, faculty, and leaders of GTIIT. He thanked Mr. Li Ka-shing, former GTIIT Chancellor Li Jiange, former Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie, and the Technion Special Envoy to GTIIT, Nobel Laurette Distinguished Prof. Aaron Ciechanover. “The creation and success of GTIIT is the outcome of the work of many, both in Israel and in China,” Prof. Sivan said. “Still, we would not be here today without the profound vision, brilliant leadership, and deep devotion of these individuals to the idea, which is now a living fact.”

Prof. Gong Xingao, Chancellor of GTIIT, greeted the guests, graduates and faculty, and so did Technion faculty members Prof. Dganit Danino, and Prof. David Gershoni. Peleg Lewi, Consul General of Israel in Guangzhou, also spoke at the ceremony.

The Guangdong Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) was inaugurated in China. The project is the result of a historic partnership between the Li Ka Shing Foundation, the Guangdong Provincial Government, the Shantou Municipal Government and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

To read the full story on the GTIIT website, click here

To watch the entire graduation ceremony: 

Photos and video courtesy of the GTIIT Office of News & Public Affairs

In a nano-optics breakthrough, Technion researchers observed sound-light pulses in 2D materials, using an ultrafast transmission electron microscope. The study, recording for the first time the propagation of combined sound and light waves in atomically thin materials, was published in the prestigious journal Science.

To read the full story and others – from Israel’s first visually impaired doctor to cutting-edge artificial intelligence research, click here.

New collaborations, cures, and game-changing discoveries from Technion Israel.

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The ambassador of the UAE to Israel, H.E. Mohamed Al Khaja, visited the Technion last week, expressing interest in joint research, particularly on water and food security. “Shared science and research will bring our countries and people closer,” he said during the historic visit.

“What sets us apart from other universities is that there is no other whose commitment to their country plays such a central role. Our founders perceived the Technion as the Jewish people’s university, a role we are proud to fulfill to this very day.” A special message from Technion President, Professor Uri Sivan, for Yom HaZikaron (Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Independence Day).

The mysteries of the mind, Israel’s greatest exit and Technion and the Crown – all in the latest edition of Technion LIVE – hot technology news from Israel!
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