UAE: This Emirati frontliner learnt AI tools to manage Covid-19, treat patients

Dr Farhana bin Lootah urges other doctors to pick up new technologies



by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 26 Aug 2022, 7:15 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Aug 2022, 7:26 PM

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, presenting unprecedented challenges, an Emirati physician looked at innovative ways such as AI to offer care for patients at her health facility in Abu Dhabi.

Pursuing a quick course in artificial intelligence from an elite US university, she is now urging other doctors to pick up new technologies and see how it can be applied to enhance patient experience.

Dr Farhana bin Lootah, an internal medicine consultant in Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), is a kind-hearted person, with passion and enthusiasm for community service.

As a bright student, Dr Farhana received a scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to pursue her master’s in health policy from the prestigious Imperial College London.

“I took the chance to experience something new, knowing in turn I could give back to my community. The challenge is that you are walking away from the familiar, you are miles away from home and all things that you hold dear. It was not an easy choice, but it is one that made me more resilient and adaptable."

Studying abroad helped me push my limits and learn new skills that I use to this day. I was able to return with invaluable knowledge and friendships made to last a lifetime,” she told Khaleej Times ahead of Emirati Women’s Day.

Dr Farhana started her career in Ireland in ambulatory health services and later returned to Abu Dhabi.

At ICLDC, she is known for sharing expert advice with hundreds of patients who have benefitted from her profound insight and knowledge in diabetes and obesity management. As Covid-19 struck, several medical services had to be handled remotely, including delivering patient care. As a result, Dr Farhana and her colleagues strived to put their best step forward by deploying advanced technologies.

“It was at this time, I spearheaded a few projects in collaboration with our teams to extract, analyse and make decisions based on data that identified critical patients. We used business intelligence tools to categorise these patients and highlight their needs. These tools, in a rudimentary sense, can be used as a basis for machine learning, a type of AI, something that I helped establish.”

Soon, Dr Farhana became an advocate for AI and sought to introduce such innovative solutions into healthcare management. As a result, she pursued a certification from the elite Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“AI is a relatively new tool, but I think it’s important to be pragmatic and consider its applications. We have seen tremendous benefits when applying AI to patient care. I would like to expand it into all other healthcare practices. Being an early adopter not only means using the technology for namesake, but to ensure that you are delivering on better outcomes with greater efficiency. This is something we have been able to witness at ICLDC.”

AI in healthcare management

Dr Farhana wishes to further the application of AI in healthcare and encourage more doctors to learn about emerging technologies.

“With wider application and discussion, we can create groups to study and refine the usage of the technology to ultimately elevate the industry. We have seen the use of AI in biotechnology, but not as much in healthcare management and delivery. I hope that we can shift the needle and change this.”

Applying her personal experience to the technological tools, Dr Farhana was keen to deliver better patient care and bring smiles to their faces, especially during the pandemic era.

“Seeing patients emerge from hardships and seeing families support their loved ones helps me be grateful for the role I have in facilitating their recovery. I have seen unique events such as diabetic patients going into remission and patients with severe thyroid issues becoming pregnant. I know that I will continue to make memories, and hope to provide the conditions for patients to walk away with positive impressions,” she said.

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Dr Farhana asks youngsters to set more ambitious goals and a higher purpose for their lives.

“Challenge yourself and see how you can move beyond your comfort zone to support your community, your nation, and even the world. Thankfully, you have the full support of your leaders. With ambition and hard work, you can create something of value, something your successors might benefit from. There is no greater joy than supporting others, and it is what helps create a sustainable future.”


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