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UAE: New virtual device connects doctors to patients

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on June 2, 2021
Photo: Supplied

The technology will allow physicians to conduct a full patient examination remotely.


A healthcare provider in the UAE has launched a comprehensive, end-to-end multi-gadget solution that can connect doctors with patients in a virtual set-up.

SmartDoc, launched by Al-Futtaim Health, is a multi-gadget device that will be sent to patients’ homes or workplaces by HealthHub or Tashafi clinics at the time of consultation.

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“This will allow doctors to remotely conduct a full patient examination, listen to the patient's heart, look into the eyes or ears, and even do an electrocardiography for heart conditions,” said Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, managing director of Al- Futtaim Health.

The technology allows a nurse and physician to conduct a medical exam from patients’ home and remotely diagnose and treat common symptoms such as fever, cold, ear infection, stomach ache, sore throat, congestions, urinary symptoms, etc.

SmartDoc is equipped with the latest diagnostic technology to check vitals such as pulse-oximeter, weight/height and BMI, thermometer, non-invasive blood pressure, ECG, electronic stethoscope, spirometer, respiratory rate and glucometer.

“PCR tests can also be arranged, provided all symptoms match with regulatory guidelines,” added Dr Yousuf.

In addition, SmartDoc uses advanced instruments that can record audiogram hearing and video laryngoscope tests, along with PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) medical cameras. The cameras are fully controlled by the physician with their patient, while simultaneously viewing real-time comprehensive medical data to determine the appropriateness of telemedicine on a case-by-case basis.

Real-time diagnosis

“The device connects the patient to a physician in real time for a full diagnosis," said Dr Yousuf. "The service is focused on increasing access by reaching the patient at home or work, elevating quality of care, capabilities, and expertise in the healthcare space."

Following this, depending on requirement, samples are collected for further tests and medicines are also delivered to patients’ homes.

The device and service were launched in partnership with global insurance provider MetLife.

Andrew Stocker, head of employee benefits at MetLife Gulf told Khaleej Times the service was launched as a long-term solution to make healthcare services more accessible to insured UAE residents in a post-pandemic world.

“Currently, only members in Dubai have access to the programme. We will roll it out across the UAE over time,” said Dr Yousuf.

A video of the device and working methodology was showcased to the media at the Al-Futtaim Health headquarters in Dubai Festival City on Tuesday. The services will be rolled out to segments of MetLife’s corporate insured members starting July 3, officials said.

Cost of availing SmartDoc

The service is not entirely limited to MetLife members. Over time, it will be rolled out to patients with other insurance policies too.

“Co-payment for the SmartDoc depends on the patient’s insurance policy. In the case of MetLife, there is no co-payment for telehealth services. Members may be responsible for a co-pay for the Smart Doc consultation, labs and tests, or medicine in accordance to the plan,” explained Stocker.

He said MetLife currently has about 400,000 health insurance members in the UAE.

Speaking at the side-lines of the event, Saleh Al Hashimi, the CEO of Dubai Health Insurance Corporation, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) said, “Our goal is to move away from paying for surgeries and go towards preventive care. The country’s healthcare sector has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade.”

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He added, “Providing world-class healthcare is one of the six pillars of the National Agenda in line with Vision 2021 and we are focused on implementing the appropriate regulations to ensure we are aligned with all best global practices.”

How to book for SmartDoc?

Step 1: Call 04-2608707 to book your appointment with SmartDoc.

Step 2: A nurse will arrive at the patient’s home and will aid them through examination using SmartDoc diagnostic tools. At the time of the appointment, the team will also verify patient’s details by checking Emirates ID or passport.

Step 3: The nurse will connect the patient digitally to the physician, who will complete the examination, to provide the diagnosis based on the medical exam data.

Step 4: During the visit, if the physician recommends the need for diagnostic follow up, such as with blood sample, the physician will send the referral instantaneously to the insurer.

Step 5: Following the examination, if a prescription is needed, the physician will send medical prescriptions to the nearest available pharmacy, which will deliver the prescribed medicines at the patient’s doorstep.

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88





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