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Need of the hour: Connected healthcare

Article-Need of the hour: Connected healthcare

Interview with Ali Abi Raad, Country Manager for the Middle East and India, InterSystems

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.
TAGS: Telemedicine
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