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Being better connected for our patients

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Op-ed by Dr Mohammed Ibrahim, Head of Pediatrics, Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children.

Dr-Mohammed-Ibrahim.jpgSituations of outbreak highlight the importance and urgency of having connected healthcare now more than ever before. Giving doctors and healthcare providers instant access to patient data is crucial to making a well-informed decision, and it can save lives, especially in an emergency.

However, regardless of the scenario, outbreak or emergency, connecting healthcare professionals and facilities is essential in building a holistic view of a patient’s health history and, ultimately, improving their outcomes.

In October 2019, Danat Al Emarat connected to Abu Dhabi’s universal Health Information Exchange (HIE) platform Malaffi, which has since enabled the hospital to safely and securely exchange patients’ health information in real-time through Malaffi’s centralised database of unified patient records.

Malaffi is seamlessly integrated into Danat Al Emarat’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system, collating all important patient data, such as medications, allergies, and laboratory and radiology results, along with any medical interactions a patient has, from consultation to emergency treatment, in one place, which is accessible through our facility’s EMR system.

Malaffi allows me to access a patient’s medical history, which is safely and securely stored and instantly accessible when needed.

The true benefits of Malaffi for Danat Al Emarat, as a hospital for women and children, are the enhanced quality of healthcare and improved clinical outcomes for patients and their families. Being better connected is key to aiding us as doctors in achieving improved coordination of care and making better informed decisions at the point of care, whether the young patient is in for urgent care or here for a routine check-up.

As we utilise Malaffi, we are also empowered to avoid prescribing any duplicate or unnecessary tests and services, and ultimately improve the safety and experience of our patients.

A good example of how information exchange can save time and prevent unnecessary hospital visits is a case of a family who came to see me to find out the blood group of their child. The child’s birth had been registered at another provider Abu Dhabi, so to find out the child’s blood group, the family had tried unsuccessfully to get the information from that facility over the phone.

In the absence of Malaffi, the family would have had to visit the hospital in person to get that information. However, through Malaffi, I was able to immediately gain access to that information by clicking on the child’s laboratory results.

Through Malaffi, doctors are also able to build the whole picture of their patient’s medical history, especially in paediatric patients, whose parents might not remember medical details. Another example of this is the case of a young patient who had anaemia and previously had investigations conducted at another facility in Abu Dhabi. By accessing the patient’s Malaffi file, I was able to see the patient’s blood test results in less than 20 seconds.

Not only did this allow the staff at the hospital to proceed with treating the patient’s condition right away, but it also spared the child and his family the trauma of undergoing another blood test. This is particularly important and beneficial for patients between 1 and 4 years old as it may be challenging to find their veins as they are always on the go, making the experience very traumatic for them.

In other cases, this helps spare young patients from unnecessary X-rays and radiation, which limits their exposure to radiation as well as limits unnecessary cost.

Unified patient records are also extremely beneficial for young patients with chronic conditions, such as asthma or epilepsy. I recently consulted on a young patient with asthma and Malaffi enabled me to see the patient’s entire medical journey and understand that the patient had had several episodes through a chronology of different hospital visits.

This is key in helping doctors understand the severity of illnesses, how much medical support a patient needs, and how the condition needs to be managed and followed up. Malaffi will be life-saving in situations where a patient is in the midst of an asthma attack or having a severe allergic reaction, or if a patient with epilepsy is having a fit in the waiting area.

Access to vital patient information in these situations would impact the immediate line of treatment and management of the condition.

Ultimately, our responsibility here at Danat Al Emarat is to look after some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Children are in a dynamic state of growth with their organs developing at a rapid rate, and more sensitive than those of adults.

Malaffi can have a tremendously positive impact on the delivery of healthcare for these young patients as it reduces the amount of time that our doctors and care teams spend on administrative tasks to source important patient information from other healthcare providers, empowering and allowing them to focus on their goal of treating and healing their patients.

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