After graduating from the University of Michigan School of Public Health in May, I packed two very large suitcases and moved to Israel. I completed my summer internship at a hospital in northern Israel last summer, and this year I was lucky enough to find a position working at the University of Haifa School of Public Health. Coincidentally, U-M SPH has had a growing interest in the potential for joint research initiatives in Israel. Such collaboration would further expand SPH’s already substantial body of global public health research.
Last night, a small but distinguished group of faculty and staff from the University of Michigan School of Public Health arrived in Israel in order to explore opportunities for collaborative research, student internships, and scholar exchanges. The U-M SPH delegation includes:
- Martin Philbert, Dean
- Andrew Maynard, professor and chair, Environmental Health Sciences and director, U-M Risk Science Center
- Carlos Mendes de Leon, professor, Epidemiology
- Arnold Monto, professor, Epidemiology
- Laura Rozek, assistant professor, Environmental Health Sciences
- Kai Zheng, associate professor, Health Management and Policy
- Marc Zimmerman, professor and chair, Health Behavior and Health Education
- LoriLee Rebhan, director of advancement, SPH
For the next few days I have the distinct honor of attending meetings with the U-M SPH team in order to share the conversations that are taking place and the ideas that emerge as a result.
This morning the group journeyed through Tel Aviv to meet with Dr. Ran Balicer, Director of the Clalit Research Institute of Clalit Health Services and Haim Bitterman, Clalit’s chief physician in Tel Aviv. Clalit, which is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, is the largest of Israel’s health care providers and serves nearly 60% of the Israeli population. With universal health care coverage and compulsory participation in a medical insurance plan in Israel, the Clalit Research Institute has access to “a treasure of data that is unparalleled.” Indeed, Clalit has Electronic Medical Record (EMR) coverage for 100% of the 3.8 million patients whom they serve. In addition, the Institute makes it a point of using the available data to impact actual care provision. As Balicer noted, it focuses on all levels of change, “from policy to practice, to patients.” According to some of the Institute’s outcome measures, several of their recent interventions were significantly effective in improving patient health outcomes and reducing health disparities.
After learning about some of the stark differences between the Israeli health care system and the U.S. health care system, and being informed about the extensive health data available from insured members of Clalit, the U-M SPH faculty were eager to discuss the prospect of future research collaborations between U-M SPH and Clalit Health Services. This distinct opportunity lends itself well to answering key questions about both health systems and developing new research initiatives that promote public health in the U.S. and in Israel.