DHA’s latest initiative solves a big healthcare challenge

April 6, 2017 2:40 pm


One of the biggest challenges faced by patients in Dubai is that they have to create a profile in each healthcare facility they visit. The emirate is about to solve this problem by unifying medical records, starting on Friday.

Each patient will have an electronic medical record file that can be accessed by doctors and healthcare points of their choice across Dubai by 2018 in the biggest project of its kind in the region. A new central database will unify all medical records of five healthcare facilities starting Friday, said Dubai Health Authority on Wednesday.

The ‘Dubai Smarter, Dubai Healthier’ project was launched by Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council. Two electronic projects – Salama and Nabidh (pulse) – are part of this project, which hopes to make Dubai the most developed healthcare model in the world, said officials from the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

Going live

The launch day marks the first of the three phases with 1.4 million records going live at 3am on Friday.

Humaid Al Qutami, Chairman of the board and Director-General of DHA, said: “A third of DHA medical facilities will go live on the unified electronic medical record (EMR) system for its patients. These will include all patient records at Rashid Hospital, Al Barsha Medical Centre, the Airport Medical Centres, the Rehabilitation Centre at Al Safa and the Safa Dermatology Centre.

Al Qutami said: “This will mean that each and every patient registered in these centres will have one integrated medical file across all centres that will help the doctor know the treatment protocol a patient followed in the event of a hospital transfer and ensure homogenous treatment.”

Amani Al Jasmi, Director of DHA’s IT department, said Salama has so far unified approximately 1.4 million records and more than 12m transactions have passed through this system. “To ensure the smooth transition to the new electronic system, patients will be requested to provide their Emirates ID, medical card and health insurance details,” she said.

How does it work?

When a patient reports at a DHA hospital, he or she has to register using their Emirates ID and provide details of their health insurance coverage. Using these details, an electronic medical file with a unique number is generated.

Every single piece of medical data regarding the patient is attached to the file electronically. These include a history of medical conditions, lab reports, diagnosis, treatment protocols, dental records and any other medical history.

Residents will eventually have all their medical data stored on a special card or wristband. These can be placed on to interactive surfaces at hospitals that will also display details about the appointment as well as provide directions to which room the medical check will happen.

If the patient is admitted to a DHA hospital, the feedback from monitors, such as ventilators, dialysis machines, cardiac monitors, etc., is updated every two minutes on Salama, so much so that the nurses at the station can see the latest report at a glance without having to visit the patient’s bedside.

When a patient is transferred to any other hospital, the unique number helps authorities there recall his file. Doctors will also be able to send instructions and medical supplies to other sections, such as laboratories and pharmacies. There will be an extensive training programme to teach doctors, consultants and medical staff how to use the system.

An EPIC initiative

“We have been working on the EMR since 2016. The programme we follow is EPIC from the USA. The system is so efficient that it has multiple core applications. It integrates 25 applications through a single interface,” Al Jasmi explains. “Now, the patient’s appointment, queue management, radiology, pharmacy, laboratory information system, dental records, information about the patient on biomedical devices such as a dialysis machine, ventilator, cardiac machine, etc., will all be integrated through the EMR.”

Al Jasmi further explained that unifying records would help in more streamlined and better health-care delivery system that would ensure patient safety and accuracy.

Eventually, when all hospitals are linked, a “patient being moved from Rashid to Dubai Hospital will be ensured of getting the same treatment in Rashid or any other hospital as the record system will enable a homogenous treatment protocol.”

Salama and Nabidh

The roll-out of Salama is planned in three phases, which have been dubbed ‘Waves’. Wave 1 is being launched on Friday. Wave 2 will integrate all medical records at Dubai Hospital, DHA primary health centres and the Dubai Diabetes Centre by August 2017. Wave 3 will cover the Hatta and Latifa hospitals, all speciality clinics such as the Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre, the Dubai Genetics Centre, the Thalassaemia Centre and other remaining clinics.

The projects will later be integrated with the National Unified Medical Record under the Ministry of Health and Protection of Society, so that health information can be shared at the UAE level. While patient information sharing will remain within the five DHA hospitals under the Salama project, Nabidh will include health experts from 34 hospitals and 2,270 health centres in the private sector.

In two years’ time, every resident will have one integrated medical record in the UAE. This will not only ensure accuracy in treatment protocols but also facilitate health insurance coverage.


Hina Latif
By Hina Latif
Hina Latif has over six years of media and publishing experience under her belt, spanning multiple magazines and a newspaper in the UAE. She studied creative writing at the University of Oxford and has a Master’s degree in Journalism.