As part of the German Israeli Health Forum for Artificial Intelligence (GIHF-AI), the European Leadership Network (ELNET) organized a parliamentary breakfast on December 12th at the German Parliamentary Society (DPG) in Berlin. The event, in cooperation with the Israeli company Novocure, commenced with opening remarks from the hosting GIHF-AI board members Bettina Müller MP and Stephan Pilsinger MP. Dr. Uri Weinberg, Chief Innovation Officer of Novocure, and Prof. Dr. Martin Glas, Head of Clinical Neuro-Oncology at the University Hospital Essen, engaged in discussions with members of the Health and Digitalization Committees and representatives from the Ministry of Health regarding the use of AI in research and application. These discussions, held just two days before the final negotiations on the Health Data Use Act (GDNG) and the Digital Act (DigiG), were of utmost relevance.
The first part of the exchange focused on the application of AI in an innovative cancer therapy for solid tumors. This therapy, developed by Novocure’s founder Prof. Yoram Palti in Israel, preserves healthy cells and generates data using a device that records vital signs during the therapy. Dr. Weinberg emphasized the significant benefits of this AI-supported technology, as repeated data transmission creates a neural network that autonomously learns and processes more abstract information. This AI-supported technology allows for resource conservation and improves treatments. Dr. Weinberg summarized the immense potential of AI in the healthcare sector, stating, “AI is here and it’s here to stay.” He also highlighted the added value of closer cooperation between Israel and Germany concerning access to health data, joint platforms for startups, support for market access, and the exchange of regulations.
In the second presentation, Prof. Dr. Glas introduced a clinical study conducted at his center, which investigated the application of artificial intelligence in treatment planning for TTFields therapy in newly diagnosed glioblastoma. Prof. Dr. Glas noted that the benefit of AI in Germany often faces obstacles due to the lack of digitalization. Prof. Dr. Glas noted that the benefit of AI in Germany often faces obstacles due to the lack of digitalization. He emphasized that many healthcare professionals still exhibit significant resistance to digitalization and AI. However, both are indispensable for collecting and analyzing the data needed to better understand various disease progressions. He further stressed that Germany could learn much from Israel regarding the necessary mindset change in this field. The research and application of AI in treating brain tumors serve as a suitable use case to convince medical personnel of the benefits of digitization and AI.
One conclusion drawn from the breakfast was the importance of closer cooperation among medical professionals, industry stakeholders, and political decision-makers from Israel and Germany to promote progress, particularly in Germany. The preliminary results of a GIHF-AI study from the summer of 2023 indicate that a majority of Germans support greater digitalization in the healthcare sector and also have a positive view of protected data collection and processing. The exchange highlighted that it’s now primarily up to German policymakers to enable Germany to catch up with Israel in the realms of digitalization and AI.