Professor Rafael Beyar is General Director of Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, Israel, the major academic hospital serving northern Israel. He received his MD from Tel Aviv University (1977), his DSc from the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Technion (1983), and his MPH from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University (2008). His research focus has been on combining engineering concepts with tools to simulate, understand and analyse the cardiovascular system, to then turn the knowledge gained into innovative tools, and to finally bring those tools into clinical practice.
Professor Beyar has authored and co-authored over 250 scientific publications, 15 books, and has numerous patents to his credit. He developed the world’s first robotic catheterisation system, which is now approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and in use. His research and clinical interests include cardiovascular system imaging and analysis, invasive and interventional cardiology and development of stents. He is co-founder and leader of the annual Innovations in Cardiovascular Interventions meeting.
In the summer of 2006, Professor Beyar successfully led the hospital through the Second Lebanon War, when Rambam treated civilian patients as well as wounded soldiers from the frontiers, while under continuous missile attack, and paved the way for the construction of the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital, the largest facility of its kind in the world (see video below). His most recent achievement has been the establishment of the technology transfer company, Rambam MedTech, and winning Israel’s tender for the 2015 Incubator Program on Digital Health launched in early 2016.
What are your key areas of interest and research?
My key area of interest combines cardiology and engineering, with mathematical modelling and theoretical health analysis on the one side and the development of stents, cardiac devices and robotic catheterisation systems.
What are the major challenges in your field?
The major challenge in both cardiology and medicine is the increase in life expectancy, leading to an increase in older populations. We are blessed with increased longevity; every decade we live longer. This comes with a price: in the future we will have more patients suffering from chronic diseases, with cancer, Alzheimer’s and so on, who will need intensive or long-term care. A major challenge to our society is how to provide good clinical care as much as we can out of the hospital, in the home setting. In heart failure our major challenge is to be able to treat patients so that they don’t have to come back to the hospital every month. Hospital care is often a failure of home care, so the major challenge is to balance hospital and home care.
What is your top management tip?
My top management advice for managers and directors of hospitals is to be able to look at the eyes of our patients. The hospital director should directly communicate with the patients and understand their needs. As a clinician, a cardiologist, I do that on a regular basis.
In addition you have to develop a leadership team and delegate authority to them. At Rambam, in addition to having the hospital clinical care, research and education, we are also involved in industry collaborations, in promoting innovations and ideas, and in collaborations with business incubators.
What would you single out as a career highlight?
There is more than one! First, becoming a clinician, an interventional cardiologist, was the most important part of my career. I found my impact in the world of medicine, combining engineering and medicine, developing new devices for clinical care, which I continue to do to date.
A second highlight was during my post as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Technion and promoting research and education. During this time Professors Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in October 2004, Israel’s first scientific Nobel ever.
Then at Rambam I started a whole new career leading Rambam hospital through a comprehensive development plan, building the new and multidisciplinary west campus, and this is also a major milestone of my career.
If you had not chosen this career path you would have become a…?
My first choice was not medicine, it was chemistry, so I may have become a chemist working in a company.
What are your personal interests outside of work?
Skiing, music, spending time with my family, walking and sports.
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality” - Warren Bennis
“If an expert says it cannot be done, get another expert” - Ben Gurion
“Success is not final. Failure is not
fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” - Winston Churchill
Watch: World's Largest Underground Hospital
Video credit: Rambam Health Care