DHA Director-General: Incorporating technology in healthcare, way forward for the Dubai health sector

DUBAI, 10th February, 2015 (WAM)–In line with the vision of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Dubai Health Authority will continue to focus on the use of technology in healthcare.

Eng. Essa Al Maidoor, Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said, ” The DHA considers the use of information technology and healthcare technology to be vital for the health sector. In accordance with the Dubai Health Strategy 2013-2025, we are already in the process of incorporating the electronic medical records, hospital information system and smart hospitals, which will significantly benefit both hospital management as well as lead to further improved patient outcomes.

“The Authority will also focus this year on enhancing the mobility of health services through the use of technology. We are concentrating on the mobility of services which is essential due to factors such as population increase, expansion of geographical areas etc. This will save a lot of time and reduce anxiety that often patients are their family members go through. Thanks to development in technology, we are able to provide laboratory services such as blood tests etc. through mobile services and this is an area we will focus on in 2015.” He said the move will particularly benefit geriatric patients and differently-abled patients. He said the Authority already provides home-visits for 300 elderly patients and is keen to further enhance this service.

Al Maidoor added that during the last quarter of 2014, the DHA implemented the use of several smart services such as smart physiotherapy He said, “Today technology is making the impossible possible. Through the use of smart technology patients can take part in physiotherapy sessions from the comfort of their homes which is significantly important for patients who need to regain body movement and independence. Providing them with convenient options to ensure they regularly take part in physiotherapy sessions is essential for their optimal recovery. This technology helps provides an additional therapeutic tool to physiotherapists and enhances patient comfort.” Smart physiotherapy is made possible by the use of Kinect for Windows which allows users to interact naturally with computers by simply gesturing and speaking.

The UAE is the first country to apply Microsoft motion-sensing technology to healthcare.

The breakthrough solution for Physical Therapy is available in Rashid Hospital and will later be rolled out across other DHA hospitals.

In addition to this, Al Maidoor said that all (DHA) health facilities will shortly move towards smart pharmacy system. “The DHA health facilities will soon be fitted with a smart pharmacy system. The system uses a robot to arrange medicines and dispense them. Pharmacists simply need to store medicines into the robot’s vault before the machine sorts out the medicines according to the near date of expiry and arranges them in specific shelves based on the barcode of the medicines. The machines dispense the medicines and the pharmacist simply needs to give it to the patient. The system cuts the patient waiting time by 90 per cent and is highly beneficial to both healthcare facilities and patients.

He said this will greatly help reduce the waiting time for medicines and will be a highly efficient system.

Al Maidoor also highlighted the Authority’s plan to implement smart screens for all DHA hospitals. He said. “Hospital stays can sometimes be unpleasant for patients of all ages. Through the use of technology we will create a recreational as well as educational environment for patients and therefore we have adopted the use of touch-screen bedside units that are easy to use for patients and have a gamut of features from video and TV use, to meal ordering and hospital information services.” Al Maidoor said setting up a touch-screen Bed and Patient Entertainment system (Terminal with Arm and touch screen) has several features and once implemented patients will be able to watch TV, videos, have access to internet. They will be able to video chat, play games, and opt for videos and movies on demand. The touch screen will also be able to control the room lights, patients can order a meal, request for laundry service, view hospital information, patient educational content etc.

He added, “Through technology we can ensure that patients feel connected to the outside world. The system is similar to inflight entertainment systems but also has a strong educational component. At a later stage, the Electronic Medical Records will be linked to the system once it is implemented allowing patients to view their medical records on the touch-screen.” In the first phase, the screens will be implemented for all 200-beds of the Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital.

Al Maidoor also said that technology plays a vital role in providing cutting-edge solutions to patients and aids in successful operations. He said the DHA health facilities are a centre of excellence particularly in certain fields such as cardiology and stroke management and that in addition to a highly qualified talent pool, technology is also vital.

He added that over the next two to three years, there will be significant improvement in the health sector as and when these projects are implemented.