Some 1,000 medical personnel at the Rambam Healthcare Campus in Haifa are on the frontlines of the war against the coronavirus, and they now have a new tool at their disposal: A management and control system developed by Israel’s Elbit Systems defense company. EX-TEAMS is derived from military command and control technology, and is now helping the hospital manage its battle the pandemic.

EX-TEAMS turns cell phones into military communications devices.

It allows medical units to speak to entire teams; displays their real-time locations and their zones of operation; visually categorizes hospital beds according to severity; and uses artificial intelligence to automatically manage workloads, identifying teams that are inactive and allocating them to where they are needed most.

As word-of-mouth spreads among the medical community, other hospitals in Israel are lining up to make use of the system.

Sources at Elbit Systems C4I and Cyber told JNS that in recent weeks, a Rambam hospital department head spoke to an Elbit product leader about his troubles in managing the growing numbers of personnel in the face of the pandemic. In little time, the wheels started turning, and the defense company sprang into action, offering its technology to the hospital.

For 10 days, Elbit engineers worked with Rambam medical staff “around the clock to get the system up and running, and adapt it to the language of doctors and nurses facing the corona challenge,” reported the defense company. “We created a full command-and-control system for the department that enables doctors and nurses to communicate with one another while they are providing treatment, and to communicate between them and the backrooms that supervise them. Since it includes mapping, and command and control, they can see where everyone is located.”

A medical staff member operates EX-TEAMS, a cellular-based management and control system that was jointly developed with Elbit Systems. Credit: Elbit.

Medical staff in the hospital’s current coronavirus department need to communicate with their teams, with supervision control rooms and logistical control rooms, and navigate areas exposed to the virus, as well as areas designated as “clean zones.”

A doctor in full protective gear using the system can press one button to speak to all of the nurses in the room, a second button to speak to the control room supervising him and page others to get them to arrive at a precise bedside location.

In the civilian world, the system is in use among security teams defending sensitive sites and companies.

Rambam is preparing to absorb hundreds of potential coronavirus patients, and it will need to coordinate among hundreds of medical staff working at any given time. A lack of an adequate control system means that such an effort could spin out of control, said sources at Elbit.

Now, personnel can see the real-time location of doctors and nurses on the network, and beds are categorized into severity levels after Elbit and hospital staff adapted the system for medical needs.

Each bed displayed by EX-TEAMS will also have information on the level of treatment needed.

This type of geographic real-time information is traditionally used by the military to indicate factors such as enemy presence.

Other hospitals, including the Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center in Be’er Yaakov, Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv and the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, have begun using the system as well and could broaden their use as time goes by.

“There has not been any hospital that saw the system and did not want it,” stated sources at Elbit. The defense company is speedily installing the system in hospitals across the country.

‘A war the likes of which we have never fought’

EX-TEAMS relies on a cellular cloud-based technology.

“Controlling 1,000 people who operating in parking lots and managing 2,000 beds is an operation that needs automatic workload balancing,” said Elbit. “Otherwise, it is very hard to manage.”

In a company statement, Elbit said that “EX-TEAMS provides location-based personal and group voice data and video communications that are seamlessly operated also under protective suites.”

It added that the system “prioritizes response efforts, efficient mission-focused allocation of workforce and assets, and rapid assignment and deployment of emergency teams. All the transmitted information is encrypted maintaining security and medical confidentiality. The EX-TEAMS can be deployed within few days, requiring neither investment in new equipment nor changes to existing communication and IT networks.”

Michael (Mickey) Halbertal, general director of Rambam Health Care Campus, said that “the coronavirus situation is a war the likes of which we have never fought before. We are encouraged to receive great help from allies in Israeli high-tech that will allow us to cope and prevail. In the next phase, during which we will have to provide care for patients in large numbers, management and control of medical and logistical team will make the difference between failure and success.”

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