The world can learn more than meets the eye from Israel’s vaccine program laboratory

epa08981714 People get vaccinated against COVID19 in a gymnasium hall in Hod Hasharon near Tel Aviv, Israel, 02 February 2021. Together, they provide national coverage, but separately they compete with one another. Israel’s famed cybersecurity expertise has led to the development and implementation of advanced data security systems. One such development was the decision to digitize, benefitting medical practitioners and patients alike. The international community would do well to take a similar long-term approach. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization will send a delegation to Israel this month, to examine the outcomes. EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN

Israelis get vaccinated against COVID-19 at a gymnasium hall in Hod Hasharon, near Tel Aviv, on February 2, 2021. In short, over a period of decades, Israel has built a well-oiled health system, fueled by the integration of data and innovative technology. EPA-EFE//ABIR SULTAN

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Israel is rolling out the coronavirus vaccine at breakneck speed, having already given a first dose to almost 50 per cent of the population. Perhaps the most important lesson that other countries can learn is that Israel’s ability to conduct a lightning vaccination program is the result of decades of development. Policymakers should also understand what made Israel the ideal test laboratory in the first place. If this knowledge does prove to be the magic dust that the global medical community is looking for, it will not have been plucked from thin air. In addition, over the years, each HMO developed digital communication networks. Quite the opposite. The data that this will glean from the vaccination drive, can generate powerful insights into the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and the optimal way of administering them. These are employed by HMOs to enable anonymization, the creation of synthetic databases, or access to aggregated data only (based on non-identifiable statistics). Naturally, questions about data privacy come to mind. EPA-EFE/.ABIR SULTAN
Unsurprisingly, this has opened the door to big data analysis. Crucially, this platform can be used in emergency situations, like today’s COVID-19 vaccination operation.  In other words, advanced digitization means that Israel’s health system is today primed for the perfect pandemic trifecta — to prioritize vaccination, treatment, and follow-up. Israel was one of the first countries to receive vaccines against the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus. However, if the world really wants to learn from Israel’s unprecedented vaccine drive, it should look beyond the raw data. This integration of innovation is the real lesson of Israel’s vaccination drive. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The world can learn more than meets the eye from Israel’s vaccine program laboratory

By Wendy Singer
Executive Director of Start-Up Nation Central, an independent non-profit providing in-depth insights on Israeli innovation. As a result, they are constantly searching for an edge on their rivals, including the implementation of advanced technologies. It may just be the key towards ensuring that the global community is in a better position to tackle the next global health crisis.  Although such critical information is shared between different players, it does not mean that data privacy is compromised. However, using the country as a beta site has only been made possible through a unique combination, fusing advanced technological capabilities with a highly digitized national healthcare system. They are using a variety of analytical tools, including artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies. They serve the entire population. Over a decade ago, the Israeli Ministry of Health made a significant investment in the development of a complementary software platform that allows sharing patients’ medical records across healthcare organizations, including HMOs and hospitals in real-time. A COVID-19 vaccine center located at a shopping mall in Givatayim, near Tel Aviv. It is the product of an extensive process.  Consequently, the country is truly under the global microscope. Uniform (single ID) Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) contain all patients’ medical history and enable real-time segmentation according to gender, age, place of residence and medical background. The national healthcare system is administered through four Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), which were established decades ago (some, almost 100 years ago). Another innovation has also been key to this effort. Israel is one of the first countries to to receive the vaccine and has so far vaccinated over three million of its around nine million citizens with the first dose of the coronavirus and two million have been given the second dose. Much like a mathematical equation, understanding this process is the key to arriving at the correct answer. Pharmaceutical companies and global leaders alike are closely observing the process and its impact. Yes, Israel is an optimal beta site for Pfizer and Moderna to validate their vaccines and for the World Health Organization to formulate a global immunization strategy. Secondary access to the medical records of millions of Israeli citizens opens vast possibilities for in-depth analyses and research.  This has enabled better coordination and treatment. In an effort to keep up with one another, they have combined mobile apps, websites, emails, and text messages to enable automated direct communication to patients. Many scholars, as well as companies, big and small, have already signed agreements with the HMOs (which own the data registries). The result is advanced and safe data sharing.