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Articles from 2021 In March

Report: The Evolution of Healthcare – Patient Safety


The recently concluded Patient Safety – The COVID-19 Virtual Edition, organised by Informa Markets, brought together multiple disciplines relating to patient safety, healthcare epidemiology, public health, risk management and infection control and prevention, virtually.

In this report titled 'The Evolution of Healthcare – Patient Safety,' we dive deep into the different conference sessions at the event and highlight how COVID-19 has impacted the various facets of patient safety such as the expedited role of technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in patient safety, the importance of quality and accreditation, and effective practices in CSSD, among others. 

Click to read The Evolution of Healthcare – Patient Safety


The report has been produced in association Malaffi, one of the key initiatives of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DOH).

Patient Talk Podcast: How robotic surgery empowers the physician and ensures patient safety


Robots are making their way into the operating theatre, ensuring greater precision and patient safety.

In this latest Patient Talk podcast episode we chat with David Fischel, Chairman and CEO of Stereotaxis, a US-based robotic technologies company in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmia, to learn about robotic surgery and how the physician’s role is changing.

In an engaging half hour conversation, Fischel sheds light on telerobotics, automation, big data and more. 

Why optimising your healthcare assets is more important than ever


In 2020, COVID-19 made it clear that having the right healthcare assets was critical to saving lives. As hospitals face severe shortages of ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE), ICU beds and even healthcare staff, administrators have struggled to maximise resources and optimise clinician workflows.

Fortunately, optimising asset utilisation and workflows has never been easier, thanks to technology innovations that allow hospitals to better manage assets and inventory, maximise clinician efficiency and optimise room turnover times. Today, hospitals use a combination of barcodes, radio frequency identification (RFID) and real-time location systems (RTLS) to boost staff productivity, reduce costs and improve patient care.

Making the most of healthcare regulations

Hospitals must manage a wide array of assets, ranging from wheelchairs to portable ultrasound equipment. Even before the pandemic, hospitals had difficulty ensuring they had enough available equipment. In fact, not having full visibility into healthcare assets leads to inventory waste that costs the U.S. healthcare system upwards of US$765 billion per year.

Hospitals can take the first step toward improving inventory management and reducing waste by taking full advantage of the unique device identification (UDI) barcode labels that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) requires on medical packages and devices. Specifically, these barcode labels can be used to improve inventory management and reduce costs. UDI barcodes contain information that helps hospitals accurately manage inventory levels, automatically check expiration dates, comply with device or medication recalls and improve patient care.

The right barcode scanner can capture all the data contained in each UDI label with a single scan and appropriately parse the data into the respective hospital platforms. Armed with this information, hospitals know precisely how much inventory they have, which reduces over/under ordering. Scanning the UDI barcode allows healthcare workers to automatically flag medication and supplies when an expiration date is approaching, reducing the number of expired items left on the shelves.

UDI barcodes are especially helpful in product recalls. When a recall is issued, healthcare workers can quickly scan the affected product or medication to see if it is part of the recall. This results in a much faster recall process than manually checking each potentially affected item. The UDI can even be captured before a procedure to ensure that the right surgical tools are prepped and ready for the procedure.

Helping nurses find the necessary equipment

In addition to inventory management struggles, hospitals also frequently have difficulties managing equipment used on patient floors.

That’s where technologies such as RFID can help. RFID’s ability to read and track multiple items at once makes it the ideal solution for locating equipment quickly. In many cases, healthcare facilities aren’t actually running out of equipment, rather, they lack the tools needed to find where their equipment is located. With RFID solutions in place, hospitals can more easily track where their assets are moving throughout their facilities, as well as check when available devices are running low. Having access to this information goes a long way toward helping ensure nurses can quickly locate these high-value assets. 

Taking asset tracking to a whole new level

Location technologies such as RFID and RTLS can be especially helpful when tracking a hospital’s most important asset: its patients. RTLS in particular is designed to help hospital administrators identify and eliminate workflow bottlenecks throughout the entire patient treatment process. Using RTLS, hospitals can measure the exact time between when a patient enters a hospital and when treatment is complete. They can easily monitor data, such as how long it takes to transfer a person from the emergency department to radiology or to a hospital room for in-patient admission.

After using RTLS data to streamline workflows, one hospital reduced the average time between emergency room treatment and patient admission by 36 minutes.  And once a patient is admitted, hospitals can leverage RTLS technology to improve workflow in many areas. In fact, RTLS can help hospitals achieve up to 50 per cent faster bed turnover times, up to a 15 per cent reduction in patient wait times for tests and procedures, and up to a three-hour reduction in patient length of stay

When it comes to patient care, hospitals must improve workflows and maximise the use of their existing assets. RTLS and RFID are sure to be popular choices as healthcare providers seek to avoid future supply shortages while providing a better patient experience.

Demand high for syringes and cannulas made from plastic material


Around 2 million people get infected with diseases such as HIV and hepatitis each year due to reusable syringes. Disposable syringes prevent the plunger being pulled back after an injection so that it cannot be used again. Thus, the use of disposable syringes is gaining wide popularity in hospitals in every part of the world. Expected advantages are ensuring sterility and preventing the spread of infections from patient to patient. Parallel to this, there is also the need to improve disposal facilities at the hospital. Across regions, demand for plastic-made syringes and cannulas is high, with a market share of close to 95 per cent.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the market quite significantly. The pandemic has surged demand for syringes, which, in turn, has resulted in a shortage of syringes. Currently, with the introduction of vaccines for COVID-19, demand for syringes has surged at an unprecedented rate. Many countries are focusing on carrying out vaccination drives, which is leading to a shortage of syringes. For instance, there is growing fear in Japan that millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine purchased by the government could get wasted due to a shortage of special syringes that maximise the number of shots from each vial. Thus, the pandemic is putting great pressure on manufacturers to ramp up the production of syringes.

As per revised estimates by an ESOMAR-certified market research and consulting firm, the global syringes and cannulas market is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of around 4 per cent over the forecast period (2020-2030).

According to the Facr.MR report, Syringes and Cannulas Market, Forecast, Trend, Analysis & Competition Tracking - Global Market Insights 2020 to 2030, plastics will dominate the market contributing maximum revenue share and hospitals will account for the bulk of the demand through 2030, with more than 35 per cent of market share.

Moreover, North America holds the highest market share due to initiatives taken up through various exchange programmes that spread awareness and distribute clean needles and syringes. The market for syringes and cannulas is projected to progress at a healthy CAGR of more than 6 per cent in China and India.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 and introduction of vaccines into the market are surging demand for syringes and cannulas,” says a report analyst.



Need of the hour: Connected healthcare


Navigating through the pandemic, an increasing number of healthcare providers have invested in and ramped up their telemedicine capabilities to offer patients easy access to healthcare from the safety of their homes, to avoid the risk of catching infections. An essential partner during this digital transformation has been InterSystems. The company has worked closely with several healthcare providers in the Middle East region to support them in their mission to offer better patient care.

In an interview with Omnia Health Insights, Ali Abi Raad, Country Manager for the Middle East and India, InterSystems, discusses how the company has helped the Middle East’s healthcare industry combat the pandemic effectively. Excerpts:

How has InterSystems helped the ME healthcare industry fight the COVID-19 pandemic?

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, InterSystems had to be very agile and responsive and work on both the global and local fronts to enable automated screening tools for COVID-19 as a first step. We also recognised the importance of moving fast to facilitate the shift to remote care and telehealth. The unrelenting nature of the pandemic underscored the need for easy access to healthcare remotely.

To further help healthcare providers fight against COVID-19, InterSystems has successfully brought new systems and even hospitals live during the pandemic. For example, in Italy, in just seven days, Gemelli hospital together with the InterSystems team configured our electronic medical record system, TrakCare for an 80-bed hospital fully dedicated to COVID-19 patients in Rome, and then in just 24 hours configured an additional site, a hotel converted to a post-acute care facility. This enabled Gemelli to provide more dedicated care and helped save more lives.

In the UAE, Pure Health, the largest laboratory operator in the Gulf Cooperation Council with a network of 118 labs implemented TrakCare Lab Enterprise for its COVID-19 labs in a record two weeks to accelerate testing for the virus. This has been one of our most exciting partnerships whereby the TrakCare Lab Enterprise (TCLE) system was deployed to support the UAE’s national testing drive for COVID-19. For example, all passengers arriving in Dubai’s airport, who need to do the COVID-19 test, are being tested using InterSystems technology.

Conducting a high volume of COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests daily is instrumental in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The TrakCare Lab Enterprise system is able to manage tens of thousands of PCR tests daily. This high-throughput processing capability helps accelerate the diagnosis and identification of suspected COVID-19 cases, the release of recovered patients, and the screening of close contacts and high-risk groups.

Additionally, since the onset of the pandemic, InterSystems has worked closely with several healthcare providers in the Middle East region to support them in their mission to offer better patient care. Despite the pandemic, two more Mediclinic hospitals have implemented InterSystems TrakCare unified healthcare information system, totalling 18 go-live implementations (including four hospitals and 14 clinics) across the Mediclinic network in the UAE. The new Reem Hospital in Abu Dhabi has also implemented TrakCare and the International Medical Center (IMC) in Jeddah has also selected TrakCare as a Service, which is a private cloud-based healthcare information system that follows an OPEX model based on subscriptions, as its unified EMR system. TrakCare as a Service will integrate IMC’s administrative, clinical and financial data into a unified system, providing clinicians everything they need to make informed decisions quickly and will also enable IMC to achieve their clinical, financial and digitisation goals.

In Saudi Arabia, Sultan bin Abdelaziz Humanitarian City (SBAHC) and King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital (KKESH) in Riyadh integrated TrakCare with Microsoft Teams to extend their telemedicine services to the patients. In the UAE, TrakCare has been integrated with Okadoc’s telemedicine platform which will enable teleconsultation services with doctors at the Emirates Hospitals Group. In Oman, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital has also implemented telehealth consultations with the use of TrakCare and Google Meet.

Ali Abi Raad photo.jpg
Ali Abi Raad

How can digitalising records impact the healthcare system in the region?

Digitalising Medical Records will improve the healthcare system in the region as it will enable healthcare providers to have a holistic view of the patient’s clinical and financial information so that they can provide better patient care. Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) can improve patient safety by reducing medication errors and improving clinical outcomes.

For example, TrakCare unified Electronic Medical Record enables easier access to the information that matters. TrakCare’s clear presentation of clinically relevant information, powerful clinical decision-support capabilities, and insightful analytics and reporting enable clinicians to make informed decisions quickly. Shared workflows also enhance communication and enable seamless care-team collaboration.

In addition, the new version of TrakCare, T2020 delivers an even more enhanced user experience and improves clinicians’ workflows. The intuitive and responsive mobile interface scales across different devices and has been developed purely to reflect the platforms people already use in their personal lives, driving user adoption, reducing training time and accelerating processes to save clinicians’ time.

We have also noticed that the digitalisation process has disrupted traditional care, delivery models. This disruption has eliminated some roles such as: transcriptionists, medical record staff and the traditional insurance department processes insides hospitals. On the other hand, it created other complex roles such as data and security analysts and consent and privacy-related jobs.

What are your predictions for the industry in 2021?

Although I would love to have a crystal ball in front of me, however, based on my understanding of the market, what I can say is that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telehealth services. An IDC report predicts that by 2023, nearly 65 per cent of patients would have accessed healthcare services digitally. A Frost & Sullivan report estimates that the global telehealth market will reach US$50 billion in 2021. A similar emphasis on digital technology is being observed in the regional industry, where healthcare technology is considered as an approach to optimizing operational efficiency. The UAE accounts for 26 per cent of the GCC’s total healthcare spending and is ranked among the top 20 countries globally in healthcare spending with US$1,200 per capita spending on healthcare.

The fight against COVID-19 will continue to dominate. The UAE is taking a leading position in its vaccination programme. On a global level, a Frost & Sullivan analyst has predicted that 4 billion doses would have been delivered by the end of the year.

We see an increasing need for the healthcare sector to become connected now more than ever. Health Information Exchange systems such as InterSystems HealthShare pave the way for the creation of a unified care record for each patient and improved population health.

It’s worth mentioning that screening, whether it’s COVID-19 related or not, will continue to grow, and it’s not something that will go away quickly.

What are the major healthcare market segments that are likely to expand this year, and why is this so?

The major healthcare market segments that are likely to expand in 2021 are mainly:

  • Tele-consultations and telehealth in general as patients would continue to avoid unnecessary visits to hospitals to avoid infections.
  • There will also be an increased need for more patient engagement and remote patient monitoring solutions (wearables) to complement the telehealth services. We would also see more patient-centric care, precision and personalised medicine.
  • We are certain that more and more healthcare providers will move their healthcare IT to the cloud. Cloud-hosted EMR solutions enable hospitals and clinics to achieve their clinical and financial objectives without making major capital expenditures. This will continue to gain more footprint in the Middle East region, especially with private hospitals. In 2017, we launched TrakCare as a Service in the UAE which is a private cloud-hosted EMR service that integrates administrative, clinical and financial health data into a unified system. In 2020, TrakCare as a Service was also selected by the International Medical Center Hospital (IMC) in Saudi as the first cloud-hosted EMR service in the Kingdom. We are planning to extend our TrakCare as a Service offering to more private hospitals and clinics in the Middle East in 2021.
  • There is also an increased need for improving population health and having a unified care record for each patient which will accelerate insurance payments and provide the policymakers with timely facts for better care planning. Health Information Exchange systems such as InterSystems HealthShare will play a key role in connecting healthcare providers within the region.

Enhancing the role of women in scientific research


World-leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has announced its partnership with the University of Sharjah to help encourage women in scientific research through the sponsorship of ‘The Second Forum on Women in Scientific Research’.

The forum is set to take place on 26 August 2021 and will be open to applications from any female student and female researcher from any university in the UAE. Female researchers will be able to submit their projects across categories such as health sciences, pharmacy, medicine and dentistry to help address issues and challenges in the field of scientific research.  GSK will be funding 50,000 AED in award money for winning projects to support female researchers and help bring their innovation to life.

Commenting on the partnership, Gizem Akalin, Ph. D, Vice President and General Manager – GSK Gulf, said: “We are excited to partner with the University of Sharjah to support female researchers in the UAE and foster innovation. GSK’s strategy is to help create opportunities for innovation and research and contribute positively to the medical community. Gender diversity is also a core ambition at GSK. As such, we are proud to be able to champion the efforts of women and provide equal opportunities for female researchers in the healthcare sector.”

Professor Maamar Bettayeb, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies from the University of Sharjah said: “With a reputation as a leader in innovation and research and development, the University of Sharjah is delighted to have GSK as a partner for this forum. We are very much looking forward to engaging with talented researchers about their projects. We hope that the forum will further encourage women to pursue their passion for scientific research, and we aim to increase the participation of women in medical and scientific research.”

In addition to the ‘The Second Forum on Women in Scientific Research’, GSK and the University of Sharjah are planning to expand educational opportunities for researchers and collaborate closely on future research.

Rising to the challenge: Northern Ireland’s life sciences industry


The global response to COVID-19 has been awe-inspiring, with the life sciences industry rising to address this once-in-a-century challenge. In this report, Kevin Holland, Chief Executive Officer, Invest Northern Ireland, shares why he is particularly proud of Northern Ireland’s contributions during the crisis.

Covering everything from personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, diagnostics, and medical equipment, this report explores:


  • The importance of an ecosystem that drives growth
  • Expertise in digital and connected health
  • The role of universities
  • Regional strengths in medical manufacturing 
  • Northern Ireland's GCC footprint

Click below and download the full report to learn more!

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Webinar: High quality laboratory testing to transform the response to the global pandemic


COVID-19 testing is critical to diagnose individuals who may spread the diseases as well as to create strategies that may aid to prevent further spread of SARS-CoV-2. There are two types of COVID-19 tests — those that are designed to detect whether a patient has an acute infection (diagnostic tests), and those intended to detect antibodies (surveillance tests).

In this webinar, you can learn more about Beckman Coulter’s High-Quality Laboratory Tests that are intended to deliver accurate and reliable results that clinicians can trust.

Learning objectives

  • Clinical utility of serology vs antigen testing
  • Barriers to mass testing
  • Low-touch testing
  • Confidence in results
  • Impact of mutations to current testing options


Can nasal sprays help combat COVID-19?


While sanitising our hands has become routine, experts are suggesting that sanitising our noses and mouths before and after wearing a mask should become the norm too. Recent clinical trials conducted in the UK have shown that nasal sprays are both a safe and effective antiviral treatment to prevent COVID-19 transmission and symptom duration. These were also found to reduce symptom severity and damage in those already infected. In an interview with Omnia Health Insights, Dr. Jesse Pelletier, President of Halodine, an FDA registered, and science-backed nasal antiseptic solution designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus at its source, discusses how nasal sprays work and if they have any side effects. Excerpts:

How can nasal sprays help in combatting COVID-19? Is there research to support its efficacy?

Nasal sprays can be beneficial in combatting COVID-19. Once it was established that the primary means of SARS-CoV-2 transmission was through aerosols and droplets, the nose becomes the initial dominant site of viral infection, replication, and transmission. This is because we do the majority of breathing through our nose. The nose fulfils a critical role in cleansing and humidifying the air that is destined for our lower respiratory tree. It also, in conjunction with our mouth, is responsible for producing aerosols and droplets that may infect others. Nasal sprays which may inactivate the virus can, therefore, act in two ways. If one is infected with SARS-CoV-2 they can decrease the viral load or viral titers, making one less infectious to others and acting as a form of source control. On the other hand, if one is healthy, using a nasal spray that inactivates the virus may act as a means of chemical protection to mitigate or prevent infection altogether.

Can nasal sprays be used by all age groups? Are there any side effects?

The only evidence-based viricidal nasal spray that is currently available is Halodine which contains the antiseptic povidone-iodine as an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). The spray is safe for use in most age groups. Its use in children under the age of three should be guided by discussion with one’s paediatrician. The side effects can include some tingling or stinging at the application site that lasts for a few minutes. It should not be used in those who suffer from thyroid disease, are pregnant or have an allergy to iodine-containing products. Other nasal sprays under investigation at this time include those which contain nitric oxide, carrageenan isolated from red seaweed or other polysaccharides.

Halodine represents an extra layer of protection against SARS-CoV-2 and should be used in conjunction with masks and other mitigating measures. The spray provides an additional layer of protection for up to four hours. Halodine has published research regarding its formulation in both the Journal of Prosthodontics and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The latter manuscript has been adopted by the CDC and placed in the Thacker library to better inform clinicians and researchers regarding COVID management and therapeutics. Continued study with our API has shown a benefit in reducing RNA quantification via PCR, reducing infectious viral titers, and speeding viral clearance. Using Halodine nasal spray along with oral gargles may go a long way in helping break ascendant viral chains of transmission during this pandemic.

How important is it to continue to practice measures to protect ourselves even after being vaccinated?

Despite excellent protection against disease afforded by vaccination, we will likely continue to transmit the virus from our nose and mouth. This is in part due to the difference between systemic and mucosal immunity as the latter is driven by secretory IgA and may be less robust with current vaccination strategies. We are also witness to the evolutionary biology of SARS-CoV-2 as it continues to change based on Darwinian principles. New viral mutations have led to numerous variants which may influence a variety of factors including transmission, the severity of the disease, testing and the neutralising ability of antibodies created through vaccination. Some of these variants have undermined the neutralising ability of our vaccines making infection, transmission, and even mild disease more likely.

The evolution of lasers in urology


The development of gentle and effective laser therapies in urology has experienced a technological breakthrough in recent years. In the field of medical technology, companies such as biolitec have continuously developed urological laser therapies. Due to the wide spectrum of fibres and the stepless adjustment of the LEONARDO lasers, the individually required tissue effect (e.g.: incision, excision, vaporization, hemostasis and coagulation of soft tissue) on a wide variety of tissue types is possible. Thus, it is possible to work with precision, which can prevent the occurrence of undesirable side effects such as incontinence, impotence or other sexual dysfunctions. With the laser system, it is possible to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, condylomas, tumours of the bladder, pelvic floor, urethra, and even kidney tumours.

LIFE laser therapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia BPH is a transurethral resection performed via cystoscopy. Due to the excellent hemostasis in haemoglobin and water, the tissue can be ablated with extreme precision. In doing so, the special contact fibres provide an unbeaten ablation rate and ensure smooth surfaces. The formation of retrograde ejaculation can be avoided by sparing the internal sphincter of the urinary bladder.

Advantages of laser therapy

In partial nephrectomy, the treatment area is reached minimally invasively by means of laparoscopy. For this purpose, biolitec supplies state-of-the-art fibres that ensure optimal nephron sparing. Parenchymal damage and ischemia times are reduced to an absolute minimum with this therapy. In addition, the blood supply to the kidney does not have to be cut off, allowing the procedure to be performed without time pressure. The laser fibre used allows simultaneous cutting and coagulation, which contributes to efficient partial kidney resection and may allow better preservation of overall kidney function.

Also performed via cystoscopy is TULA laser therapy (Trans-Urethral Laser Ablation) for non-muscle invasive bladder tumours. One of the advantages of this new technique is the hemostasis provided by the laser. It provides better visibility and optimized hemostasis during the procedure. Compared to the conventional method, it does not require partial or general anaesthesia and can even be performed completely without anaesthesia on an outpatient basis. People who need to take anticoagulants and platelet aggregation inhibitors can also be treated. Thus, the procedure is also suitable for high-risk patients for whom regular ablation is not possible. Since the recurrence rate for bladder tumours is very high, transurethral laser ablation is particularly suitable for multiple applications.