With the aim of revolutionising the way healthcare is delivered in Dubai while at the same time, focusing on patient-centric care, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is working with private companies from across the world to implement cutting-edge technologies to provide patients with the very best standards of care. This initiative is part of the Dubai Future Foundation’s Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) programme, which recognises that technology has the power to improve efficiencies of the overall health sector, improve healthcare management and bring down the cost of care.
Launched in 2016 by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and the Chairman of Dubai Future Foundation, DFA serves as a platform to work on transformative solutions using latest digital technologies in several fields including healthcare.
“DHA is keen on exploring the use of technology in healthcare as technology has the power to transform lives and in the healthcare space, it is even more impactful as it directly improves patient care,” said Dr. Mohammed Redha, Director of Project Management Office, Informatics and Smart Health at DHA.
As part of its participation in the fifth Dubai Future Accelerators cycle, HE Humaid Al Qutami, Director General of the DHA met with the four companies that DHA is working with to brainstorm and discuss ways to implement these innovative solutions in the health sector in Dubai.
According to Al Qutami, “The Dubai Future Accelerators programme is a platform that provides us with an opportunity to explore the use of cutting-edge technology in the healthcare space. At the end of the day, patient-outcomes and happiness is our core priority, and technology has the potential to transform healthcare for the better.”
The fifth cohort of Dubai Future Accelerators consisted of nine weeks of joint work between the government entity and four selected accelerators. The programme saw the companies presenting proofs of concepts and pilot projects at DHA hospitals to see how this technology can be incorporated in Dubai.
Six Body Vitals on a Single Smart Device
Scanbo, an AI-based healthcare start-up, is one of the companies working with the DHA’s Dubai Future Accelerators office. The company has invented a portable and connected device that can capture multiple vitals from human body and transfer data to a mobile app using bluetooth.
According to Ashissh Raichura, Founder & CEO of Scanbo, “The device is very easy to use. The patient simply needs to place his fingers on the device and in less than two minutes, the device provides accurate details of six body vitals: blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, ECG, blood sugar and oxygen levels. The data will be stored on a mobile app and also maintains the history. We also have future versions planned, which will have 18 vitals in a compact and portable device.”
“The idea,” says Rohini Kaul, Co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Scanbo, “is to empower the patient to self-check regularly. This app can also be accessed by doctors; so it allows both the patient and the doctor to foresee any minute deviation for early intervention and further investigation.”
Remote Doctors for Specialised Surgeries
Another technology that was assessed is Proximie, a cloud-based augmented reality platform, which allows doctors to virtually transport themselves into any operating room or clinic to collaborate, guide and support surgeons and healthcare professionals.
The technology is being used in several countries, including across South America, for complicated surgeries for children with cleft lips. It is also being used at different hospitals around the world, as well as medical device manufacturing companies, and teaching hospitals and institutions.
Tariq El-Titi, Commercial Director of Proximie Gulf, explained, “The technology allows doctors to virtually scrub in, without being in the operating theatre. The technology literally augments the transmission of the real physical world on screen with additional, digitally generated content. It allows remote hands-on virtual assistance and provides specialised care and input at affordable costs.”
Pre and Post-Natal screening
P4 Medical Laboratory (P4ML), Ireland’s first ever precision medicine company, has designed a non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT), which is a simple blood test that is CE-IVD marked. PJ Moloney, Managing Director of P4ML, explains that the test is called Eolas Plus and helps detect specific chromosomal disorders as early as 10 weeks to provide valuable information in pregnancy management. “We have developed very specific IP to also screen for biomarkers for foetal growth restrictions (FGR) in tandem wiith our NIPT test,” he added.
“Preeclampsia and FGR are disorders that cause short-term complications for the infant and have been associated with a range of diseases in adult life, such as ischemic heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and long-term neurodevelopmental disorders,” says Moloney. “Moreover, these complications have profound effects on maternal morbidity and mortality. Preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal death globally, and preeclampsia and FGR are markers for the mother’s later risk of cardiovascular disease. Both preeclampsia and FGR are associated with abnormal placental function and metabolism. We pick up biomarkers for foetal growth disorder or pre-eclampsia so that the clinician can then advise and put the patient on a dose of aspirin to help bring the mum and baby to full term.”
Normally, in cases of pre-eclampsia the only solution is a C-section at week 28 or at 32 and the baby is born preterm and needs admission in an INCU. “However, early detection at 10 weeks allows the doctor to put the patient on aspirin so that they can bring the mum and baby to term at 38 to 40 weeks,” he added.
Robotic Assistant for Surgeries
Amer Khayel from Amico explained how his company supplies a robotic assistant known as ROSA with a robotic arm for minimally invasive spine surgeries.
“ROSA automatically positions the guide according to the planned screw trajectory and allows precise adjustment of the guide’s position. The robot arm follows the patients’ movements in real time, a feature that mimics real life and responds to one of the common unmet clinical needs,” he said.