Titled the “City of Health,” Sheba is taking the lead in promoting health by establishing a new Healthy Longevity Center, set to open in September 2023.
Spearheaded by Prof. Tzipi Strauss, Director of Neonatology and a pediatric physician, the center will bring together experts from internal medicine, endocrinology, gynecology, geriatrics, and brain science to tackle the challenge of aging. With a focus on disease-free longevity, the center aims to maintain the health of patients across the globe for as long as possible.
As the largest medical facility in the Middle East and a global leader in healthcare innovation, Sheba has long been committed to preventive medicine and continues to pioneer new approaches to improve patient outcomes and advance the field of medicine.
“We already have amazing preventative screening programs and patients already come for whole body screens once a year,” says Strauss. “But this is not longevity medicine. It is more about checking if you have cancer or cardiovascular disease or any other problem you may have. Longevity is all about risk assessment – how to maintain high performance, how to prevent decline, how to improve muscle mass, cognition or sleep, all of which will affect your health in the end.”
It was Dr. Strauss’s personal experiences that led her to get involved in longevity. Prof. Strauss became interested in the field after experiencing her own aging-related health issues. “When I was 47 I began having issues with sleep,” shared Prof. Strauss. “I started reading about menopause and about 20-30% of women suffer from sleep issues. That’s when I got the longevity bug.”
Inspired by the groundbreaking research being conducted at top institutions around the world, Prof. Strauss became convinced that longevity services needed to be made more accessible to the wider public.
“We agreed that we should be doing longevity at Sheba because of its vision of promoting health,” she says. “The Hebrew word for hospital means ‘home for the sick’ but we want to become a ‘city of health’ – not only taking care of sick people but offering proactive medicine and health education. Longevity is about improving healthspan along with lifespan, and this exactly fits our vision.”
Democratizing Longevity Medicine
After spending almost a year researching the developments in longevity, Prof. Strauss has recognized the benefits of offering affordable longevity services in a public hospital. The center’s goal is to make longevity accessible to more people by democratizing it, as opposed to being limited to private clinics that may be costly.
The focus on affordability means that during the pilot program’s first year, patients can expect services to be provided at a very low cost. “Our goal is to make longevity services accessible to a broader range of people, which is why we are committed to offering affordable care,” explains Prof Strauss.
Assessment, Intervention, Research
The longevity program at Sheba will cover everything from cognitive and physical to mental factors. The work of the longevity center will be largely divided into three key areas: clinical assessment and intervention, technology and innovation, and research.
During the assessment phase, patients will receive a comprehensive assessment covering all lifestyle components, “with follow up of the patient using smartphones and wearable devices,” says Prof. Strauss.
This will be followed by validated interventions, based on the assessments. If we see that you need to improve your muscle mass, for example, there may be a special physiotherapy for that, or if you’re not sleeping well, we will give you interventions that are already validated for that. And then, of course, we do the follow up to ensure that what we are doing is having the right effect,” she explains.
The program also conducts longevity-related research and collects valuable patient data, which can help optimize patient health and prevent the decline in their last years of life.
“As a medical center, we already gather a lot of data on our patients, which is extremely valuable because we can continue to follow them and see how the data changes over time,” says Strauss. “This will enable us to see trajectories – cause and effect. There’s a lot of data that we cannot fully understand yet. But in 10 years’ time, we will be able to use AI, big data, and deep machine learning to help us treat our patients as individuals, optimize their health, and most importantly, prevent the decline in the last 10 years of their lives.”
“We need to educate physicians and change the way they think about healthcare,” argues Prof. Strauss.
Sheba’s Healthy Longevity Center aims to revolutionize modern medicine by educating physicians about longevity medicine, which is currently an unfamiliar field for many. To achieve this, Prof. Strauss plans to partner with Longevity Education to develop courses that will be integrated into the curriculum at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Medicine and School of Public Health.
The goal is to bring longevity into specialized areas of medicine, with courses like endocrinology longevity and general medicine longevity. With initiatives like this, Sheba’s Healthy Longevity Center will be able to pave the way for longevity medicine to become standard practice in healthcare.