The Digital Health Revolution

With German Health Minister Mr. Jens Spahn, Berlin - עם שר הבריאות הגרמני, ינס שפאן - ברלין . 10/2021

(דברים בוועידת הבריאות הדיגיטלית גרמניה-ישראל).


I would like to thank organizers of this wonderful conference.
Today healthcare systems across the globe face common challenges – challenges that existed even before COVID-19.
I am talking about health workforce shortages, and burnout rates among that workforce,
an aging population that requires more health services, rising demand and rising prices.
Each of these challenges requires the application of creative thinking, long term planning, and international collaboration, not to mention digital tools and innovation.
We saw during this pandemic how important international cooperation is, and we continue to strengthen it today, here.
Not long ago we inaugurated a new phase in our longstanding collaboration with Germany in the field of digital health.
A three year bilateral forum, on artificial intelligence (AI) and digital health
This forum will take advantage of the common innovation activities in both countries.
This work will benefit public health and the population at large.
Through the joint promotion of emerging technologies in the field of health – Israel and Germany will bring added value to each other.
Governments are not the only actors that need to work together to address the challenges of the health care system.
But Governments have a significant role to play in creating the regulatory and economic environment that will enable these necessary collaborations.
Governments need to work towards establishing a regulatory environment that is conducive to the development of digital health tools and their implementation in health systems.
Governments can also help in establishing standards to ensure compatibility across health systems.
We are at a health conference, and it is impossible not to start with the global struggle against COVID-19.
Israel has finally rolled back almost all COVID-19 restrictions only in the last week.
We have seen in the last two years, all over the world, that the social and economic price of closures is extremely high.
We have seen extensive damage to the economy, education, culture and sports – all of which ultimately harm health as well.
Therefore, after 3 difficult closures in Israel, we pursued a different, long-term strategy.
We left the economy open, allowed free movement, opened the school year on time and allowed cultural and sports activities.
To make this possible, as in Germany, we have laid the groundwork in Israel that will allow us to live alongside the virus for a long time.
Each strategy we utilized throughout the pandemic relied heavily on digital tools.
From national vaccine and testing systems based on health information exchange systems, to tele medicine platforms, the effort to combat this pandemic has been 10% logistics and 90% information systems.
As we begin to emerge from the shadows of the pandemic we must dedicate ourselves to developing the tools to be better prepared for the next pandemic or the next wave.
These tools are the technology that will save our lives and the lives of our children.
They include early detection tools, tools that expand healthcare capacities in times of need, and tools that gather data to aid decision makers.
Israel is an early adopter for implementing digital systems in healthcare
Over 25 years of health information exists in our databases.
Since we are a country of such diversity, the data covers a genetically diverse population.
We have a relatively centralized system, each citizen belongs to a health fund.
This HMO system is based on healthy competition between HMO’s for members.
this causes them to try to take advantage of the digital revolution and constantly improve their services.
The Israeli healthcare system greatly benefits from the powerful ecosystem of innovation in Israel:
There are about 700 digital health startups, some of them are participating in the conference today.
We see a great many collaborations that make it possible to imagine a world of better medicine: proactive, holistic, connected, data-driven, and personalized medicine.
The challenges we face: an aging population, lack of manpower and physical infrastructure, rising drug prices, require us to rethink the rules of the game through the use of technology.
Using AI we can imagine a world where new tools enable decision support and diagnostics, –
health care can become more personalized,
drug discovery can take full advantage of advanced computing technology to reach new discoveries faster, –
crisis managers can have better information to guide decision makers,-
and remote monitoring of patients can enable earlier detection while reducing the load on physicians.
The developments of further ways to utilize data will lead to better continuity of care, –
more patient access to their personal data with better personalized outcomes,-
and more patient empowerment.
This will lead to new trust models between doctors and patients,
And exponential growth in research and innovation as researchers and patients access data sources that were not previously available at such a scale.
The importance of the digital health field is great and only growing.
A few weeks ago, I appointed the Innovation in Health committee, to set the vision for the next 5 years of health tech in the Israeli healthcare system.
The timing is critical –
we have learned so much after two years of the pandemic.
The industry is on the rise and offering many digital health tools.
We want to see how we can bring all of that together for the growth of the Israeli healthcare system.
The innovation in health committee is focusing on the next “game changers” in digital health:
the right of patients for health data portability, which is the next phase of interoperability;
smart and efficient use of tele-health to improve access to care;
digital tools in clinical trials,
and benefiting from the inherent value in AI in healthcare.
The challenges healthcare systems are facing are local and global in the same time.
Technology can cross borders easily in the internet age, but in healthcare, technology needs to be integrated physically and locally.
That is one of the reasons why international collaboration is so important – we can learn from each other, we can use the technology better, we can adapt its use to each local population.
We are learning from Germany’s experience in the field of digital health, the approach to AI and apps, as well as the new incentive models for digital health acceleration.
Just a few weeks ago, German and Israeli experts sat to discuss data access and data linkage in health.
We are committed to continuing this collaboration and together we will achieve great things.
Thank you.