x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Medical history of Abu Dhabi students just a mouse click away

The new system will allow faster and better treatment of children who take ill in the classroom as schools get quicker access to pupils' records.

ABU DHABI // Almost half of all government schools in the emirate have launched a system allowing them to electronically input pupils' medical records.

Since it beganin September, 123 schools have moved to paperless records, allowing more than 160 school nurses trained in the system to access records easily, which could help in medical emergencies.

There are about 265 government schoolin the emirate, with more than 340 nurses. No private schools are involved in the project, which is run by the Ambulatory Health Services Company (AHS), a division of Seha, Abu Dhabi's Health Services Company, and Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec).

Electronic records are a must, said Joumana Dobbo, a Syrian born in the UAE who works as a charge nurse for the School Health Services division at AHS.

"I had many difficulties in filling in the data for the students," Ms Dobbo said, speaking about her previous work in the Western Region. Trying to meet parents to retrieve information was also a tough job.

"Whenever you ask for a meeting with parents, they say they are too busy," she said.

Adult illiteracy in the Western Region is another barrier, with some parents unable to fill out the forms required by their children's schools, she said.

"With this electronic system, even if you don't meet the parents, if this student has had any encounter - even since childhood to any [Seha] clinic or hospital - I will have a background history for him. This has increased accuracy."

The old paper system requires schools to complete about 26 forms for each set of records, with information about their height, weight and vision and whether or not they have any chronic diseases.

"It used to be, all this information was inputted manually," said Dr Mubarak Hamad Al Darmaki, section manager of the health management and school operations sector at Adec.

"You know how difficult it is to follow up manually? All those practices now, it will just be a matter of a click and I can see all the data," he added.

Should an emergency arise during school hours, the system will allow for a more effective response.

"With the availability of the system ... a nurse can see whatever medication the student is taking," said Dr Al Darmaki. "Maybe he missed, or the physician changed the treatment."

The system will be implemented in schools across Al Ain and the Western Region this September. Full integration is expected by June next year.

"Implementing this needs a lot of homework ... it's not only a matter of just sending a form," added Dr Al Darmaki.

Although private schools are not part of the system upgrade, past regulations from Adec have helped regulate the way their pupils' medical records are taken and kept, said Humaid Abdullah, Adec's student affairs division manager.

"This is a new project, so I think we will work to encourage the private schools to have similar practices to what we are providing at our government schools," he said.

"We started in a very successful way to encourage the private schools to have licensed and registered clinics and nurses and this is a big achievement."

There are about 185 private schools in the emirate.

Adec has also taken into account the potential influx of pupils for the next academic year, after Abu Dhabi Government announced all Government employees must live in the emirate.

Whatever number of school pupils start the term in Abu Dhabi this September, their health will be well looked after, said Mr Abdullah. "People should understand that if we start earlier with the students, it will be easier to prevent any sort of future diseases."

zalhassani@thenational.ae