2011: Background - Before the Pears Challenge
During his undergraduate studies, Jon watched a documentary featuring the challenges of tuberculosis disease (TB) in the Solomon Islands. Even on the small islands, there was a problem of tracking the patients’ treatment and encouraging them to finish it.
2014: Ideation - Participation in Pears Challenge I
A few years later, during his MBA studies at the Technion in Israel, Jon attended the Pears Challenge exposure event where he heard a global health expert speak about the burden of TB globally. Jon applies for the Pears Challenge with the goal of developing a technology to reduce TB’s burden, and is soon joined by a fellow MBA student from the Technion and a Canadian Professor of Infectious Diseases, bringing over 20 years of experience in clinical care for TB patients.
The Pears Challenge provided the Keheala team with a framework for moving from their initial inspiration to a fully developed product concept and initial business plan. Over the course of the Challenge, the team had the opportunity to receive mentoring and support from a broad range of global health experts.
2014: First recognition - Product development
Keheala wins the IsraAID $10,000 Leapfrog prize for the venture making the most progress in the Pears Challenge. This enabled Jon and his team to plan a field trip to learn more about the context they were addressing and to validate their ideas in relevant settings.
2015: Field validation
Utilizing the Pears Challenge award money, Jon traveled to Kenya to understand the TB reality first hand. Jon speaks with a range of medical professionals and patients, and conducted observations over two weeks, using a blank page approach allowing them both to shape the solution and create a sense of ownership.
2015-2017: First funding
In order to raise capital to build and pilot a prototype of his solution, Jon applied to USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures. The lengthy and complicated application process pays off when Development Innovation Ventures awarded Keheala with a $100,000 grant. Keheala started developing its first product, using research and their field experience to develop a mobile platform to increase tuberculosis treatment compliance amongst patients with Stage 1 TB, using sophisticated behavioural science approaches.
Keheala piloted its solution in a 1,200 person randomized controlled trial (RCT) in Kenya over 12 months as part of a broader USAID-funded project. The patients using the Keheala’s app demonstrated a 68% reduction in unsuccessful treatment outcomes - death, failed treatment and loss to follow up - compared to the standard of care control group.
Keheala presented the results of their USAID pilot at the 2017 World Lung Health Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico. They open a dialogue with the TB treatment community, showcasing the success of their approach as compared to the standard method of securing TB treatment compliance.
Keheala was accepted into the 8200 Impact Accelerator, receiving an opportunity to further develop their technology. 8200 Impact provided opportunities for consultation with technology experts, team-building, and exposure to investors. During the program’s demo day, Jon was approached by the co-founder of Check Point, Marius Nacht, who made a major investment in Keheala. Nacht's decision to invest served as a strong endorsement of Keheala’s business potential.
2018 - 2020: A path to scale & recognition
USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures selects Keheala as one of the only 4.5% of $100,000 Grant Recipients to receive a follow-on grant. Keheala is awarded $600,000 to scale its TB intervention. USAID contracts with Keheala to support 17,000 TB patients across eight counties in Kenya.
Keheala is contracted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to deliver a drinking and smoking cessation/reduction program amongst TB patients in Angola and, later, Zimbabwe.
Keheala wins two prestigious awards. They first win the Digital Health category for Teva Pharmeceutical’s RISE Challenge, a global “innovation competition aiming to find novel solutions to real patient needs worldwide”. The award recognizes Keheala’s “potential for significant impact on the health and wellness of millions of people throughout the world in terms of effectiveness and reach.”
In addition, Nefesh B’Nefesh awards Keheala the Initiative for Zionist Innovation (IZI) award, which seeks “the next generation of leaders and innovators.” Both awards come with cash prizes.
Keheala starts thinking beyond Kenya. They are accepted into the MassChallenge Accelerator, and receive access to Mass Challenge’s global network of mentors.
Keheala is selected as one of 42 tech companies from 11 countries (out of a total of 295 applicant companies) invited to participate in the World Bank International Finance Corporation’s TechEmerge Brazil program.
The program launches with a Demo and Matchmaking event in Sao Paulo, Brazil where Keheala has the opportunity to present its technology to 25 leading healthcare providers in Brazil.
Keheala is selected to represent Israel at the 2019 World Summit Awards for digital innovation with potential for high impact on improving society.
Keheala is invited to showcase their technology at VivaTech in Paris, France and had the opportunity to discuss their solution with the president of Rwanda H.E. Paul Kagame.
Keheala was recognized as a Tel Aviv Tech Ambassador by the Mayor's Office.
The New England Journal of Medicine publishes results of Keheala’s 1,200 patient randomized controlled trial demonstrating a 68% reduction in the successful TB treatment outcomes for patients in Kenya. The New York Times, World Economic Forum, and MIT all cover the story.
Keheala exhibits at the 2019 World Lung Health Conference.
Michael Kremer, one of the USAID’s’ Development Innovations Ventures’ co-founders, is awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics for his experimental approach to alleviating world poverty. USAID publishes a blog post congratulating Kremer and uses Keheala as its example of DIV in Action.
2020: Global collaborations
The extensive exposure facilitates relationships with larger players such as Sanofi Pharmaceuticals. Sanofi contracted Keheala to support 40,000 people living with HIV in South Africa with their TB preventive therapy and ART adherence.
Johnson & Johnson contracted with Keheala to ensure the continuity of care for multi-drug resistant TB patients who were facing treatment interruptions due to COVID-19.
USAID’s Center for Innovation and Impact (CII) recognizes Keheala’s technology as one of the top nine potential global health “game changers” in the 2020 Global Health Innovation Index.
By extending the use of the platform, Keheala started generating data, which opened more opportunities for tech utilization. Partnering with MIT, the company demonstrated its ability to predict treatment success or failure six months in advance, adherence tomorrow and next week, and the expected benefit of a digital adherence technology for a specific individual, enabling health programs to differentiate care and proactively address disruptions. This collaboration leveraging machine learning to deliver targeted behavioral interventions across basic feature phones was published in the leading Operations Research journal, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management (MSOM).