UAE will have digital hospitals in post-pandemic era


Dubai - Consensus emerges about the roadmap in the first Middle East Digital Health Forum.

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Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

Published: Thu 27 May 2021, 7:11 PM

Last updated: Tue 18 Apr 2023, 9:14 AM

Technology will continue to play a crucial role in the healthcare space in the UAE in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era and the country could well see the emergence of digital hospitals in the future, said Ali Juma AlAjme, Director, Digital Health Department, Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) at the first Middle East Digital Health Forum hosted by Khaleej Times in Dubai on Thursday (May 27).

“Big data has played a key role in helping health authorities in the UAE manage the Covid-19 pandemic. In the future, we expect to have digital hospitals, and people utilise telemedicine solutions more frequently. We expect doctors and patients to have a more engaging relationship because of the utilisation of digital health solutions,” said AlAjme, adding that the country has the infrastructure to offer the best healthcare services.

This is in line with the UAE government’s ICT Strategy 2021 and National Innovation Strategy that focuses on the bid to develop into a fully digitally enabled nation. Besides, a key part of UAE Vision 2021 is the adoption of cloud computing to accelerate positive change, and this is being reflected in the healthcare space too. “The UAE has cloud-based services available for all healthcare service providers. Any company engaged in this sector can have access to cloud-based solutions through the two telecommunication companies,” added AlAjme.

There are two laws that apply to all players offering healthcare services in the UAE. “The first is the Health ICT Law that governs the use of technology in healthcare. And the second law states the clinical processes and procedures for anyone who is building the system for telemedicine,” said AlAjme.

The Health ICT Law was enacted in the UAE in May 2019 and introduced some noteworthy guidelines around the collection, processing, and transfer of health data within the UAE. This is applicable to healthcare providers, medical insurance companies, healthcare IT providers, and firms involved in direct and/or indirect services to the healthcare sector across the UAE. The idea is to protect health data in line with international best practices.

The availability of IT infrastructure and expertise in the healthcare sector has been instrumental in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in the UAE. “Decisions around the distribution of vaccination, opening up of field hospitals, setting up of isolation sites were all based on actual data. We have exhibited efficiency on several fronts because we have been working towards digitalisation,” added AlAjme.

Last year, MoHAP had launched Tatmeen, a new track-and-trace digital platform to secure healthcare supply chains. The platform helps to track pharmaceutical products through their journey in the supply chain, promoting trust and transparency, and also keep a check on the use and supply of counterfeit or expired medical supplies and unauthorised products.

MoHaP also reengineered its Shefaa digital platform and recently launched it with more features that make access to medical services and records easier. “We have integrated 65 platforms to this app and connected more than 200 fitness devices (such as fit bit, iHleath, and other medical gadgets approved by the US's Federal Drug Administration),” said AlAjme.

The future of healthcare in the UAE will be driven by technology and appears to be a growing mantra.

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