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Taiwan, U.S. mulling sharing healthcare big data: official

2019/10/13 15:58:36

Lee Po-chang, director-general of the National Health Insurance Administration.

Washington, Oct. 12 (CNA) Taiwan and the United States are considering sharing big data related to healthcare, to help facilitate medical research on both sides, Lee Po-chang (李伯璋), the head of Taiwan's health insurance administration, said in Washington on Saturday.

Lee said the American National Institutes of Health (NIH) is interested in the data bank built by Taiwan's National Health Insurance (NHI), particularly for research purposes.

In Taiwan, "we have complied big data from the health insurance system, and we're using artificial intelligence (to process it)," he told CNA. "We now have a tactic understanding with the U.S. to see how we can cooperate in that field."

That understanding resulted from his meeting on Oct. 8 in the U.S. with Hugh Auchincloss, principal deputy director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at which they discussed some directions for future cooperation in fields such healthcare big data, Lee said.

During the meeting, Lee said, he spoke about Taiwan's MediCloud, the medical information sharing system on the NHI platform, which has been collecting and storing healthcare information for 20-plus years.

"Analysis of that data can make a big contribution to medical research," said Lee, who is director-general of the National Health Insurance Administration.

The MediCloud data bank contains information on tens of thousands of cases, while the U.S. does not have a similar national central healthcare database, which means health records have to be obtained from individual hospitals, he said.

Lee said the U.S.' interest in Taiwan's MediCloud data bank was also evident Saturday at a medical conference on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which he attended at George Washington University.

In Taiwan, Lee said, because MediCloud stores the health records of patients from all over the country, health professionals can more easily conduct research on AMR -- the resistance of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites to drugs.

The results of the research can then be passed on to the government to develop responses to AMR, which is now found not just among humans but also livestock, he said, adding that the U.S. is interested in that process.

While the MediCloud data bank can be shared and used for many purposes, the Taiwan government is committed to protecting patients' privacy, said Lee, who was also invited to speak Saturday at the Cultural Center of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. about Taiwan's NHI system and its future development.

Lee arrived in the U.S. Oct. 7 on a six-day trip, primarily to visit the NIH and the Washington office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and to attend the medical conference held from Oct. 9-11 at George Washington University.

(By Stacy Hsu and Elizabeth Hsu)
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