The National Center for Health Information Systems (CENS), a technology center promoted by Corfo and composed of the Universities of Chile, Catholic of Chile, Talca, Concepción and Valparaíso, signed a cooperation agreement with I-DAIR, International Digital Health & AI Research Collaborative, a global platform dedicated to the promotion of inclusive research and development (R&D) responsible in digital health and artificial intelligence , applied to this field, and which will benefit the inhabitants of all of Chile.
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency convenes public, private and academic entities from various countries, and was born in line with the objectives defined by the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote the incorporation of technology into health systems.
CENS was created in 2017 and together with its public and private partners, they create enabling tools to help lay the foundations for the digital transformation of Chilean health. It is estimated that more than one billion people could improve their access to health in the next decade of these developments, according to WHO projections.
The cooperation agreement between the two institutions will allow CENS to participate in a global network dedicated to establishing collaborations in digital health and artificial intelligence, with the aim of solving health system problems through research and development. I-DAIR has development centres in Nairobi, Kenya; Delhi, India; Singapore.
“It will allow us to open up a huge spectrum of knowledge, share new experiences and discover how problems have been solved in other countries facing similar challenges. On these issues there are emergencies and we cannot reinvent the wheel, but generate collaborations that allow us to move forward together,” said Dr May Chomalí, executive director of Corfo’s technology center.
Following the signing of this agreement, the agency will assume the generation of a development hub for Chile and Latin America, which will have the mission of promoting advanced capacity building in data management and Artificial Intelligence in the region, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Eduardo Vera, chairman of the board of directors of the National Center for Health Information Systems and Director of International Relations at the University of Chile, appreciated that “Artificial Intelligence is a technology that will drive very important changes in health, and in this sense it is very interesting to build global connections to exchange knowledge in the field”.
The I-DAIR platform was promoted by the Botnar Foundation of Switzerland, one of the most important non-profit institutions in Switzerland, with assets of more than 4 billion euros. It has signed agreements with organizations in various countries to establish a collaborative space to drive digital health and the use of technologies such as AI to solve industry problems.
Dr. May Chomalí emphasizes that the alliance will allow the National Center for Health Information Systems to be I-DAIR’s representative entity in Latin America. The joint work is part of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on good health and well-being, contributing to the achievement of goals related to improving health coverage and cooperation for access to science, technology and innovation.
“We share the purpose of consolidating connected health systems that benefit citizens through technology. Our interest is to encourage joint research to support ecosystems and improve the implementation of strategies and actions for digital health transformation not only in Chile but in other developing countries, consolidating us as a regional platform for this challenge.”
“Over the past few months we have seen the urgency of incorporating technological tools that improve efficiency and access to health, and therefore, if there are experiences that are further advanced in other countries, it can be very positive to be able to know them, collaborate and facilitate their adoption in our countries. One of the big goals is to be able to accelerate the solution of problems with technology, which can be a tremendous contribution,” she added.
The cooperation agreement between the two institutions will put this corfo technology centre in theto define “Pathfinder” projects together with I-DAIR’s global partners. This implies, as detailed from the Geneva-based entity, its role as a regional strategic ally, capable of driving transformations and whose progress could contribute to other projects at the global level.
The scientific knowledge generated through local research and development, promoted by CENS, will be useful in consolidating digital ecosystems and sharing public goods in other countries, mainly in the region, underscores the chairman of the national center’s board.
“The important thing about technology is that it allows to develop better human capacities, and for the health sector it is key that its professionals and technicians adapt to these transformations. For these cutting-edge tools to have positive impacts, we need to move forward with good data collection and interoperability first. All the knowledge that allows us to expedite this process will be fundamental,” Eduardo Vera said.
The academic of the University of Chile added that “it will be very interesting to understand how the rest of the world advances with research and development experiences in Artificial Intelligence and data management, and to be able to compare with the projects that we are promoting here. Chile has also accumulated its own experience in the field, including some driven by researchers who are part of CENS.”
The agreement between CENS and I-DAIR will focus on one of the six focuses in which the international organization works: governance for Artificial Intelligence and Health Data. In addition, other scopes relate to establishing a global map of digital health research, real-time epidemiology, and building capabilities around data flow.