Covid-19: How UAE’s virtual doctors helped speed up pandemic response


Dubai - Mohap’s virtual doctor platform is manned by a team of medical professionals that provide medical consultations round the clock.

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By Saman Haziq

Published: Mon 21 Jun 2021, 11:08 PM

Last updated: Tue 22 Jun 2021, 6:10 AM

As the pandemic limited people’s movement outdoors last year, the UAE authorities made it possible for residents to consult doctors without having to visit clinics. At Arab Health, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) has showcased how its virtual doctor platform has not only made healthcare more accessible but also helped speed up the country’s pandemic response.

Mohap’s virtual doctor platform is manned by a team of medical professionals that provide medical consultations round the clock, officials said. The aim of the platform, they added, is to improve ways of communication with community members and raise awareness of best preventive health practices. It allowed patients with chronic diseases to get in touch with their doctors without having to visit health centres.

“The virtual doctor platform is the first of its kind to provide health awareness and information about several diseases including Covid-19. It’s also a method of assessing cases remotely, limiting misinformation, and a way of reaching a wide spectrum of people from various nationalities,” said Dr Hussein Abdul Rahman Al Rand, assistant undersecretary for the health centres and clinics sector and chairman of the National Committee for the Implementation of the Provisions of International Health Regulations and Prevention of Pandemics.

The platform has helped lower patient flow and speed up response to suspected cases of Covid-19, he added.

Mohap has worked with Emirates Health Services (EHS) to make the service more comprehensive, including case assessment, medical consultation, and laboratory services.

By using interactive, contactless screens, patients just have to select a disease category so they can be connected to a doctor via a video call. The doctor, on the other end of the line, will instantly respond to the caller’s enquiries.

The virtual doctor service provides patients with more details about their health condition as they answer a number of questions related to their symptoms and medical history. The doctor will either provide health tips or advise the patient to visit the health centre.

“The provision of virtual consultations round the clock and the proactive follow-up of patients are part of the commitment of Mohap and EHS to improving the quality of life and the sustainability of healthcare,” Dr Al Rand said.

Eventually, this would also help reduce healthcare costs, he noted.

The virtual doctor platform — which was launched at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic — can be accessed in different languages, including Arabic, English, Chinese, German, French, Indonesian, Russian and several Indian languages.

Emirati doctors residing in Canada, Turkey, and New Zealand are also supporting the platform by offering consultations.

Dr Haifa Fares, head of primary healthcare programme section at Mohap, said: “The platform primarily aims to reach a wider segment of society and offer them the health awareness and care through our smart technologies.”

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