In recent years, the Ministry of Health has been advancing national digital health infrastructure that positions Israel at the forefront of the race for a data-centric world of medicine. The objective of the initiative is to enable the Israeli healthcare system to successfully address the challenges of the 21st century, such as the aging of the population, the pervasiveness of chronic illness, a spike in the number of insured people, unhealthy lifestyles, all while leveraging the Israeli system’s comparative advantages.
In an effort to advance optimal health for Israel’s entire population, the Ministry of Health has outlined a targeted vision for digital health: a quantum leap in the healthcare system that will allow it to become sustainable, advanced, innovative, and constantly improving; it will leverage information and communication technologies at its disposal, for the improved health of the entire Israeli population. The individual patient lies at the center of this medical activity, and plays an important role in the progress of their health and treatment. Medical decisions are made with the support of data derived from a variety of accessible sources, and through implementing the outcomes of R&D, which are also based on health data.
The realization of this vision requires a transformation in five aspects:
- The patient at the center – as a key engine for the overall changes.
- Personalized medicine – therapies adapted for individual human traits and needs.
- Promotion of health – proactive, predictive, and preventative medicine.
- Sustainable health – effective and economically viable processes in the healthcare system.
- Accessible health – digital services.
Israel prides itself on a quality digital healthcare system and on its technological and enterprising spirit. After a two-decade investment in medical digital documentation, Israel is at the forefront of existing digital medical data, and is growing hundreds of startups in the health field. nonetheless, realizing the vision and making optimal use of the tremendous technological opportunity would require comprehensive infrastructure changes, including the advancement of processive and regulatory infrastructure in the system.
Led by the Ministry of Health and the Headquarters for the national Digital Israel Initiative through the Ministry of Social Equality, and in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office, the treasury, the Innovation Authority, the Planning and Budgeting Committee, and the Ministry of Economy, in March 2018, the Israeli government set its sights on advancing digital health as a national engine of growth. The decision is centered on removing regulatory and infrastructure obstacles hindering collaboration between health data-centric sectors, and on the Mosaic Project, whose objective is the establishment of a genomic clinical data-base that would enable R&D of products that advance personalized medicine.
A digital health program, which was launched as a result of this decision, has already begun to operate on several fronts: The national big data infrastructure for R&D in the field of healthcare; telemedicine infrastructure, Halev infrastructure (the patient at the center) aimed at synchronizing interorganizational processes in the healthcare system (such as making an appointment for a medical procedure which is currently the patient’s responsibility) and a new version of medical information exchange between medical professionals within the healthcare system (Eitan, the next generation of the Ofek system).
With a view to the future, and with suitable processive and regulatory infrastructure, the Ministry is anticipating health services to be based on an integration of capabilities from all these infrastructures. For example, telemedicine infrastructure that would link devices in possession of patients or their primary medical professionals, to health data in the Eitan system based on IoT (Internet of Things) capabilities.
Furthermore, R&D and big data development products will be implemented in processes for supplying the health services, whether in the patient’s home, in community facilities, or in hospitals. According to forecasts, by 2030, big data and advanced data analysis tools will be implemented in the therapeutic environment, and will supply products that are learning and improving. Therapeutic decisions will be made with the backing of these tools, and will reflect accumulated knowledge in the fields of medical treatment and preventative medicine. The integration of the systems of healthcare, welfare and education, and broadening treatment processes to include the needs and capabilities of patients and their families, will complete the picture of the future, and will make Israel a global leader in healthcare.