Israel announces $264 million digital healthcare program

Over 60% of the proposed budget for the program would be used to establish digital infrastructure for medical research. 

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s cabinet approved Sunday a five-year digital health project that will cost close to a billion shekels but bring the country’s entire health system into the cutting edge of the 21st century and advance its medical research to become a world leader in the field.

Among the projects in the National Digital Health Plan are the unification of all Israeli patients’ medical records collected over the last two decades (98% of the population) into one database; making connections between multi-national companies and Israeli startups in the various digital health fields; and developing high-level courses to staff digital health positions of the future.

The full-scale digitization of a patient database, called the Mosaic Project, aims to improve Israelis’ wellness in the short term by detecting health trends and improving the accuracy of diagnoses. It also has vast potential for long-term research in genetics and pharmaceuticals, to name two commercial, multi-billion-dollar fields.

Concern over privacy issues has also been raised, as illegal hacking of personal information on the internet is rife. The selling of such data for unintended usage has also recently come into the public eye with the Facebook scandal in which 50 million users’ data was transferred to a third party without their permission.

However, the government insists that regulators will ensure that information will be secured and accessed anonymously, and that people will be completely free to choose whether or not they will participate in any of the projects.

A meeting of 70 CEOs of health-related companies is slated for Tel Aviv on Monday to study the government’s decision and ways to implement it.