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Articles from 2021 In September


Patient Talk Podcast: How technology is evolving in preventative healthcare

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In this month’s podcast roundup of healthcare stories you might have missed, curated by our Content Executive Fatima Abbas, ProColombia US Director Ricardo Pedroza explains how Colombian healthcare is so appealing (from medical travel to emerging health tech hub Medellin), while new technologies such as AI are explored in today's management of prediabetes as a form of preventative care.

We also delve into our new report on Laboratory Transformation that includes the latest healthcare leader perspectives on the changing lab. 

Listen to the podcast episode here:

Successful content marketing for healthcare marketers: How to generate qualified leads

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After “uncertainty about the future” – unsurprising, considering the ongoing climate – “difficulty generating new leads and finding new customers” recently emerged as the top challenge shared by healthcare companies in a survey conducted by Omnia Health.

In our recent survey of over 1,600 senior healthcare professionals from across the globe, we asked:

Where is your main focus for driving new healthcare leads?

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While in-person events and exhibitions are making their much-anticipated return, the digital marketing landscape for the healthcare industry has accelerated – and the companies making the most of in-person and online opportunities alike will come out ahead.

We also asked:

What are your top learning objectives for the next 12 months?

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With digital marketing a major priority for the healthcare industry in the coming year, those organisations who are already leveraging this are ideally placed to rise up above the competition, and getting your content right is the key to generating qualified, engaged leads. 

Successful-healthcare-content-marketing-thumbnail.pngIn this eBook, we’re sharing our top tips for getting started with content marketing, how to stand out in a digital world, and how to ultimately use content to drive your audiences to take action.

Simply sign up below for your free copy of the guide today, covering:

  • Content marketing 101: The healthcare edition
  • The marketing funnel
  • Creating your content - top tips
  • What does success look like?

Fakeeh University Hospital partners with Siemens Healthineers to drive greater efficiency and innovation in healthcare delivery

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Fakeeh University Hospital, leading healthcare and academic center based in the UAE, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Siemens Healthineers to further enhance the successful collaboration across various areas with a special focus on medical excellence, improvement of productivity, and innovation in healthcare delivery.

Brought to the UAE by pioneering Saudi healthcare provider group, Fakeeh Care, Fakeeh University Hospital is committed to delivering medical excellence and championing outstanding research in the UAE, building on four decades of healthcare legacy. Equipped with cutting-edge technology and with the support of its partnership with Siemens Healthineers, its systems are set up to treat an estimated 700,000 patients a year.

In the most recent leap of mutual collaboration, Fakeeh University Hospital (FUH) will see the institutionalisation and facilitation of the Middle East’s first Innovation Think Tank (ITT) laboratory developed in collaboration with Siemens Healthineers. It will create a local innovation infrastructure connected to global Innovation Think Tank locations, focusing on improved patient experience, disease pathways advancement, and workflow optimisation. FUH- ITT lab will act as a physical and virtual center for research, clinical excellence, and training, where staff, students, and researchers can apply their real-world expertise towards the development of medical innovations, from new practices to breakthrough technologies.

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Dr. Fatih Mehmet Gul, CEO, FUH and Ole Per Maloy, Head of Siemens Healthineers for Middle East and Southern & Eastern Africa

Innovation Think Tank is a global infrastructure of co-creation labs and programs at Siemens Healthineers locations, universities, and hospitals. ITT empowers partner institutions to create self-sustaining infrastructures and proactively drives innovation to improve human life. Until 2021, Innovation Think Tank has established a network of 56 activity locations, consisting of ITT laboratories and certification programs. It is also responsible for more than 2,500 product definitions, R&D, and strategy projects and continues to offer 200 ITT fellowships annually to program participants from so far over 150 universities in 38 countries.

In addition to the laboratory space at its state-of-the-art facility, the flagship ITT Certification Program will be organized in a hybrid format, engaging key healthcare stakeholders in the region and focusing on defining new designated projects in the ITT-FUH lab. Also, a dedicated digital engagement platform will be launched on Fakeeh University Hospital’s website which will showcase the most outstanding projects and potential engagement options with the global community on research and innovation. The laboratory space itself will strengthen the hospital’s education arm by providing opportunities for doctors and staff to undergo specialised training sessions to further enhance patient care capabilities. Fakeeh University Hospital will be the reference site for Technology & Innovative solutions, with the establishment of ITT and Healthineers academy for clinical training of not only FUH healthcare professionals but also, healthcare professionals from the entire middle east.

Dr. Fatih Mehmet Gul, Chief Executive Officer, Fakeeh University Hospital said: “This is an exciting moment for us as we further establish ourselves as a leading center of academic excellence and patient-centric care in the country and region. As a globally recognised stamp of expertise, the ITT certification allows us to ensure that we continue to train and retain some of the best minds in medicine at our hospital. We look to Siemens Healthineers as our natural partner, to help us continue to pave the road towards innovation and quality care. Together, we can address the biggest healthcare challenges in the UAE and wider region.”

Ole Per Maloy, Managing Director, Siemens Healthineers Middle East and Southern & Eastern Africa said: “In addition to our existing multifaceted partnership, Fakeeh University Hospital is now among the growing number of prestigious institutions worldwide that have undertaken the Innovation Think Tank program. Building on their impressive expertise, this program will allow participants to explore their intrinsic creativity and diversity to encourage out-of-the-box thinking, ultimately creating an innovation ecosystem and addressing local challenges in our region as well that will improve the lives of patients.”

Psoriasis: understanding the causes and treatments

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Psoriasis is a common, chronic, inflammatory, and proliferative condition of the skin, associated with systemic manifestations in many organ systems. According to Dr Dhanya Rajkumar, psoriasis is a noncommunicable, disfiguring and disabling disease that significantly negatively impacts the quality of life for those with the disease.

The most common characteristic of the skin rash is red, scaly, sharply demarcated lesions that are seen particularly over the extensor surfaces and scalp. Psoriasis can also affect the nails and joints. According to the International Association of Psoriasis Federations, approximately 125 million individuals across the globe are affected by psoriasis.

According to Dr Rajkumar, a specialist dermatologist at Medcare Hospital Sharjah, special consideration should be given to lifestyle factors and behaviours that contribute to the overall health and treatment responsiveness. These include weight management and quitting smoking. In addition, the use of thick, non-fragranced moisturisers daily is recommended in conjunction with additional baths, which can be infused with colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts or coal tar to help alleviate inflammation, irritation, dryness, and redness.

For reasons yet to be known, the use of UV light is said to improve the remission of psoriasis lesions. Thus, while most individuals avoid sunbathing to decrease the risk of developing skin cancer, those who have psoriasis may benefit from it.

There is no known cause of psoriasis; however, there are several lifestyle factors to consider to reduce its appearance and spread.

“It is suggested that excessive alcohol consumption is associated with moderate to severe psoriasis and should therefore be avoided,” Dr Rajkumar explains. “Smoking also causes an increased risk of developing psoriasis.”

Also, any infection that affects the immune system can trigger a certain type of psoriasis, which is why there can often be a flare-up following an ear infection, bronchitis, tonsillitis, or even respiratory infection.

Dr Rajkumar also explains that increased levels of depression, anxiety and worry often results in flare-ups of the disease, leading to moderate or sometimes even severe psoriasis. Even though sunlight is suggested to be beneficial to individuals with psoriasis, in some cases, psoriasis may be provoked by sunlight, so if a person experiences an aggravated case of psoriasis following sun exposure, future minimised exposure is advised.

Treatment for psoriasis

There are various treatment modalities for psoriasis, depending on the type and severity of the disease. According to Dr Rajkumar, mild plaque psoriasis without psoriatic arthritis can be treated with various topical treatments such as coal tar, potent topical corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, followed by phototherapy as a second line of treatment.

In moderate to severe plaque psoriasis treatment, phototherapy is the first line of treatment, followed by oral medications such as immunosuppressants and apremilast.

“In case patients do not respond to the above treatment, the next step is biologicals, which can have a great promise for individuals with moderate to severe psoriasis, and they represent a significant step forward in the development of psoriasis medications that will improve the quality of life of patients,” Dr Rajkumar concludes.

“Biologics are systemic drugs that target only specific parts of the immune system. Biologics used in psoriasis target cells and proteins that cause inflammation, the rapid growth of skin cells, and damage to the joint tissue, e.g., TNF alpha, interleukins 12, 17,23. Therefore, biologics selectively targets these proteins, thereby reducing the psoriatic symptoms.”

Can augmented exercise in hospitals improve physical performance?

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It is commonly known that older medical inpatients are only moderately active in the hospital. In Augmented exercise in hospital improves physical performance and reduces negative post hospitalisation events: a randomised controlled trial, published by BMC Geriatrics, patients reportedly walk an average of 600 steps per day, which translates to 12 minutes of walking; 49 per cent of elderly patients are on bedrest or simply transition from bed to chair, and less than 19 per cent of patients walk in hospital hallways. The study suggests that patients who walked more had a shorter hospital stay, with a 50 per cent increase in step count being associated with a 6 per cent reduction in hospital stay, while those with poor physical performance on admission were the least active in hospital. Following a hospital stay, these frailer patients are at a higher risk of functional impairment.

The trial was carried out to compare the impact of an augmented prescribed exercise programme versus the standard care on physical performance, quality of life, and healthcare utilisation in frail elderly medical patients admitted to the hospital. The method was based on a parallel single-blinded randomised controlled trial. Older medical inpatients with an expected stay of fewer than three days and who need help or assistance to walk were assigned to the intervention or control group within two days of arrival. Both groups got half-hour guided exercises twice a day, Monday through Friday, from a staff physiotherapist until release.

The intervention group completed personalised strengthening and balancing exercises, while the control group stretched and relaxed. The major outcome metric was the length of stay. Readmissions within three months, as well as physical performance (Short Physical Performance Battery) and quality of life (EuroQOL-5D-5 L) at discharge, were all assessed secondary variables.

Time-to-event analysis was used to compare lengths of stay, and regression models were used to compare physical performance, quality of life, adverse events (falls, fatalities), and negative events (prolonged hospitalisation, institutionalisation).

Data from 190 individuals (aged 80 ± 7.5 years) were assessed out of the 199 patients assigned. At the start, the groups were comparable. In an intention-to-treat analysis, there was no difference in length of stay between groups (HR 1.09 (95 per cent CI, 0.77–1.56) p = 0.6).

Physical performance was better in the intervention group at discharge (difference 0.88 (95 per cent CI, 0.20–1.57) p = 0.01), but lost at follow-up (difference 0.45 (95 per cent CI, − 0.43 – 1.33) p = 0.3). An improvement in quality of life was detected at follow-up in the intervention group (difference 0.28 (95 per cent  CI, 0.9–0.47) p = 0.004). Overall, fewer negative events occurred in the intervention group (OR 0.46 (95 per cent CI 0.23–0.92) p = 0.03).

To conclude, improvements in physical performance, quality of life, and the occurrence of fewer negative events show that this intervention is beneficial to fragile medical inpatients. However, its impact on the length of stay is not defined.

World Pharmacists Day puts the spotlight on trust

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World Pharmacists Day is observed on September 25 each year to pay tributes to pharmacists for their role in improving global health. The purpose of the annual Pharmacists Day is to encourage activities that promote and advocate for the pharmacist’s role in improving health in every corner of the world. The theme was chosen to highlight the importance of trust in healthcare and the practice of pharmacy across diverse clinical settings.

As we celebrate World Pharmacists Day, I am instilled with pride and privilege to be working alongside some of the most experienced and dedicated individuals as we collectively seek to empower the sector. The theme for this year – Pharmacy: Always trusted for your health’ – truly commends pharmacists who have put their faith in this profession. The theme was chosen to highlight the importance of trust in healthcare and the practice of pharmacy across diverse clinical settings.

It is of notable mention that the pharma industry collectively got together in the fight against COVID-19, from creating the vaccination in a very brief period to the devotion of the frontline workers in the hospitals and uninterrupted supply of medicines to the world, showcasing its solution-driven commitment to the betterment of humanity. Furthermore, as a leading science and technology company, Merck was a significant contributor to the supply of lipids, a key component required to build the mRNA vaccines. 

Furthermore, on the drive to fight COVID-19, I am grateful for the support of the UAE government and their introduction of favourable initiatives and policies that not only made the nation safe for us but also made this place an attractive nurturing ground for the pharma industry, thereby implementing an openness to embrace global best practices in everything it does.

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Ahmed Abo Al Fadl

Addion GmbH leverages Stratasys digital anatomy 3D printer to create eye models for ophthalmology

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Leading Austrian 3D printing service provider Addion GmbH, which specializes in customized 3D printed medical model production, has selected Stratasys’ J750™ Digital Anatomy™ 3D printer to produce never-before-seen surgical models for ophthalmology. 

Using the full color multi-material 3D printer and collaborating closely with medical training solution provider and manufacturer Eyecre.at. GmbH, Now, Addion and Eyecre.at. are able to develop and construct artificial eye models with a level of realism that was previously unachievable.

This technology provides pharmaceutical companies and providers with true-to-life models that enable improved product testing and surgical training.

To date, ophthalmology has lacked high-quality artificial eye models that mimic the exact anatomy of a human eye including color, haptics and complexity. Addion’s 3D printed eye models allow pharmaceutical companies to develop, advance, and demonstrate medical devices, while medical practitioners can perform surgical training on more standard eye procedures. 

By its very nature, the production of 3D eye models is generally a lengthy and complex process. Due to the eye’s watery and ultra-soft tissue, it can be difficult to easily recreate ophthalmologic anatomy using existing medical scanning technology, which means that models are developed from anatomical drawings. The models created using previous 3D printing technologies lacked true-to-life accuracy due to limitations in material options and color capabilities. 

According to Alexander Hechenberger, Addion GmbH CEO, the Stratasys J750 Digital Anatomy 3D printer’s innovative materials such as TissueMatrix™ and GelMatrix™, and full color capabilities, now enable Addion’s team to mimic ultra-soft, watery tissue, and create 3D printed models with unprecedented realism.

“For us, the possibilities with the Digital Anatomy Printer are endless, and despite the incredible results we’ve enjoyed to date, we are still just scratching the surface in terms of the technology’s potential,” says Hechenberger. “There are hardly any comparable alternatives for eye model production in our industry, particularly in the complex recreation of soft tissue with realistic colors and the variety of materials.

“For example, we produced an eye model where the cornea (the white part of the eye) can be detached and reattached. The skin layer on the model is a tenth of a millimeter and is detached with very small fine instruments, implanted, and then reattached. This level of detail was previously unimaginable.”  

In addition to the Stratasys 3D printer, Addion is using Stratasys’ GrabCAD Print Software to optimize the design-to-print workflow.

“Our early experiences using GrabCAD have been wholly positive,” says Hechenberger. “The software ensures an efficient workflow from data to printing and will hopefully prove invaluable as our experience with the Digital Anatomy Printer grows.”

Looking forward, Addion GmbH is already planning to produce other anatomical models in order to make full use of Stratasys’ unique material offerings like BoneMatrix™ for simulating bone structures, and TissueMatrix for vascular structures.

“Companies like Addion GmbH perfectly demonstrate the capabilities and potential of the Digital Anatomy Printer,” says Arnaud Toutain, Stratasys’ Healthcare Sales and Development Lead for EMEA. “Through the ultra-realistic eye models that they are developing, we are seeing new possibilities in ophthalmic 3D model precision and complexity. This is representative of a fast-growing 3D printing medical sector, where advanced biomechanical materials that go beyond just aesthetics continue to open up a plethora of new applications within a multitude of disciplines.”

Wolters Kluwer and Ecaresoft join forces to deliver integrated healthcare solutions across the Middle East

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Wolters Kluwer, Health has announced a collaboration with Ecaresoft that will combine the leading drug screening solution Medi-Span® Clinical with Cirrus electronic health record (EHR) and Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) solutions to offer a fully integrated NPHIES compliant solution to healthcare providers.

The move will enable both companies to deliver on a shared global mission to ensure that everyone has access to the best care possible by offering best-in-class technologies to healthcare providers in the region.

Medi-Span Clinical is used by hospitals and healthcare systems in 30 countries to screen patient data against drug information within the EHR, alerting clinicians of patient safety risks from allergies, drug interactions, and potentially inappropriate dosing.

Ecaresoft software helps hospitals, clinics and payers drive down costs and operate in more efficient ways by improving communication and making data available to decision-makers.

“Working with Ecaresoft reflects our commitment to measurably improving clinical effectiveness by helping healthcare providers across the region deliver optimal care to their patients,” said Christian Cella, vice president of Medi-Span Clinical, Wolters Kluwer, Health.

Alaa Darwish, Country Manager Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Clinical Effectiveness, Wolters Kluwer, Health added, “With both organisations joining forces to help providers deliver best in class care to patients, we are rising to the challenge of improving care quality and clinical outcomes to populations across the region.”

“We are delighted to be working with Wolters Kluwer to provide a cohesive platform that will provide our customers with a greater degree of clinical decision support to enhance patient care and safety,” said Adrian Pina Co-CEO, Ecaresoft.