Last March president Macron presented the report “AI for Humanity”, the French strategy to becoming a leading country in the field of artificial intelligence. The government has been actively gathering the right people, funds and information to launch the plan (see the timeline below). On Monday the 24th of September an important next step was taken: the national coordinator of the French strategy for Artificial Intelligence (AI) was announced to be Bertrand Pailhès.
His appointment is a sign of the French government’s determination to make a real effort to accelerate the development of AI. Bertrand Pailhès is the former chief of staff of Axelle Lemaire, State-Secretary for digitalization between 2015 and 2017. He is now responsible for implementing the “AI for Humanity” plan, for which France has allocated 1,5 billion euros to spend over the next five years.
The next step: Health Data Hub
One of the first projects that the coordinator will manage is the launch of the Health Data Hub, a platform for health data that will link to public administrative and clinical medical data. During the France is AI conference at Station F on October 17, Emmanuel Bacry (CNRS) said that it “will be the best health database in the world”. Building of the Hub starts in January and it is supposed to open in June 2019. In this ambitious timeframe, the goal is to make the Hub a trusted third party for the sharing and access to health data.
France’s has a centralized health system and insurance covers nearly 99% of the population. Data has been stored in the national database SNIIRAM for 20 years and was merged in 2017 with the PMSI to become the National Health Data System. While a good effort, the system still only comprises a fraction of the national health data out there. Therefore, the main challenge lies in merging this data with other sources and creating an all-encompassing Health Data Hub.
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