US-headquartered IQVIA is the latest health information technology and clinical research company to partner with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), it has been announced.
The multinational – described as “a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions, and clinical research services to the life sciences industry” – has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi government agency to “explore opportunities of mutual interest and support innovation in the field of health data in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).”
According to the country’s official news agency, both parties will reportedly collaborate on joint ideas and research in data and artificial intelligence (AI), build a centre for “innovation and knowledge”, and develop training programmes that can make use of this data and AI in the health sector.
The agreement was co-signed by Majid Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, supervisor of the National Center for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) at the SDAIA; and Mohamed Mostafa Elbadawy, IQVIA’s General Manager for KSA and Egypt.
“This MoU will contribute towards creating opportunities for development and growth in the health sector, supporting the goals of Vision 2030,” said Al-Tuwaijri.
Late last month, IQVIA launched Connected Intelligence, which the company describes as “its innovative approach to enabling life sciences customers to discover powerful new insights, drive smarter decision-making, and get treatments to patients faster.”
One of Connected Intelligence’s functions involves “connecting data, analytics, and services” to accelerate over 350 ongoing clinical research studies that are focusing on finding treatments or vaccines for COVID-19.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
Earlier this week, KSA’s Ministry of Health (MoH) and the SDAIA inaugurated a “Centre of Excellence” for AI in the health sector, also with the aim of supporting the country’s Vision 2030.
Vision 2030 is a strategic framework that was launched in April 2016 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud to reportedly reduce the nation’s dependence on oil, and diversify its economy by developing public service sectors, including healthcare.
SDAIA, meanwhile, was established in August 2019 to “support and drive the data and AI agenda within the Kingdom, and its vision is to position KSA as a global leader in the elite league of data-driven economies.” It features three core entities: the NCAI, the National Data Management Office (NDMO), and the National Information Center (NIC).
One year later, in October 2020, the National Strategy for Data and AI (NSDAI) was launched.
ON THE RECORD
According to a recently released report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Global Health, “Data and AI could be used to target three of Vision 2030’s strategic objectives: ease the access of healthcare services, improve value of healthcare services, and strengthen prevention against health threats – to help achieve the overarching goal of increasing life expectancy from 74 to 80 years.”