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Israel will turn its existing digitized medical records into a meta resource and a marketable asset.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a decision to launch the national digital health plan, which takes the existing digitized healthcare database and develops it, with an emphasis on exportable programs.

Approximately NIS 1 billion has been budgeted for the plan, which includes technological development, international cooperation, concentrated academic and industrial efforts and regulatory changes to encourage data research.

The extensive plan is a product of a joint effort by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministries of Finance, Health, Social Equality, Economy, and Science and Technology. The Innovation Authority and the Council for Higher Education were also involved.

“We are doing something of historic significance. We are developing the industries of tomorrow,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu explained that the plan is based on a combination of three things: very large databases, artificial intelligence and connectivity.

Israel plans to turn this development into a national growth engine. “This has a greater potential than cyber. It is gigantic, greater than [autonomous] transportation, which is also a gigantic field,” Netanyahu stated.

The field of digital health is estimated at $6 trillion globally.

What is the digitized health plan? Israel has a gigantic database that includes almost the entire population, a focused data bank of the health records that enables every doctor in Israel to see the clinical file of over 98 percent of the population over the last two decades.

“This is a great asset and we want to make it available to researchers, developers and companies in order to receive two things: Preventive medicine and personal medicine, personally calibrated for each person,” Netanyahu elaborated.

“We are achieving a breakthrough here on a global level. The interest of global companies is very great. I have already met with many of them. They all want to come here, and rightly so. They see this as a new direction,” Netanyahu concluded.

Drawing interest from around the world

Israel has a relatively small, concentrated and digitized health system. Israel plans to use this concentration to unify the system and create a voluntary data bank that will draw researchers and industry from around the world.

Israel is also upgrading the quality of the digital medical file so that future doctors will be able to make better diagnoses.

The patient’s participation in the projects will be carried out on a voluntary basis and only after the participant has agreed.

The main projects planned include establishing the “Mosaic” initiative – a national information infrastructure initiative for health researchers in genetics and medical information with protective mechanisms for the accessibility of personal information and privacy safeguards, in addition  improvements to existing medical registries and systems.

Advancing joint projects between the Israeli health system and world health systems is also in focus, in addition to increasing export-oriented marketing in digital health solutions and encouraging foreign companies to invest in Israel. The Jewish state is also seeking to advance cooperation agreements with international entities to support digital health research and development by Israeli companies.

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