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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 February 2019

Digital revolution for health

A healthcare revolution is on its way – one that will transform the way patients seek medical help, say health experts.
Tamer Shahin, chief executive of Nuviun, says digital technology will help to shape the country’s health sector. Pawan Singh / The National
Tamer Shahin, chief executive of Nuviun, says digital technology will help to shape the country’s health sector. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // A healthcare revolution is on its way – one that will transform the way patients seek medical help, say health experts.

Innovations, such as a patch worn on the body that tells whether you are suffering from stress-related illness, or a service that can examine a photo of a meal you are about to eat and tell you whether it is healthy, will soon be introduced.

The experts were speaking at a round table event at the J W Marriot Marquis hotel on Monday to discuss the growth of so-called digital health – a discipline that involves the use of information and communication technologies to address health issues.

Dr Mohammad Al Redha is chairman of Emirates Health Informatics Society, a professional association that promotes new technology in the medical industry.

He said: “I think digital health wil be the biggest change in the health sector in the next 10 years. It is very exciting.

“The development in health technology is moving much faster than the discovery of drugs.

“Using technology all the time makes our lives sedentary, but it may also alleviate problems such as a person knowing the number of steps they are taking or allowing them to send a picture and know the food they are eating is OK for them,” he said.

He also pointed to advances such as the digitisation of health records.

“Across the emirates, the shift to electronic medical records is quite substantial. If you look at each emirate’s efforts, some are faster and some slower. Budgets differ as well. We look at standardising these efforts.

“There is an initiative approved to create electronic health records all over the emirates so the patients can move seamlessly between private and public hospitals.”

Nuviun, a UAE company that funds emerging technologies, is to host Digital Health Live in May.

Tamer Shahin, chief executive of Nuviun, said that digital innovations will have to help shape this country’s health sector.

He said: “You could be in the most remote part of the region and contact a doctor immediately. You can access the right specialists, even an international one. People will not need to travel for medical reasons.”

He pointed to a new patch that could monitor all of one’s health indicators and transmit data to doctors. However, he did anticipate challenges.

“It is vital for us to make sure the technology is regulated as this affects a person’s health,” said Mr Shahin. “We are looking at the broad view and making sure the industry is regulated. Some innovations are ready to be integrated into the healthcare system now while others will take more time.”

Explaining technological innovations to doctors is another challenge, as they are often too busy to learn new methods, he said.

However, Mr Shahin believed technology would eventually reduce the doctors’ workloads.

Dr Osama Elhassan, the vice-chairman of Emirates Health Informatics Society, said the advancements would give patients more choice about the treatment they received.

“The regulatory bodies would need to ensure that the innovations are safe to use,” he said.

arizvi2@thenational.ae

Updated: March 16, 2015 04:00 AM

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