DHA focuses on expanding reach of telemedicine
Primary healthcare centres will continue to explore the use of technology to improve patient care
United Arab Emirates, Dubai, June 25, 2018: More than 1,000 patients have benefited since the launch of the headache clinics at Al Barsha and Nad Al Hamar primary healthcare centres last year.
Dubai Health Authority (DHA) introduced a headache clinic in these two focal primary healthcare centres (PHCs) after examining the high volume of patients who come in complaining of headaches.
To provide specialised care, family physicians connected patients at the centres with neurologists and psychologists in Rashid Hospital. The telemedicine facility at the headache clinic is for urgent and follow-up cases and so far, 124 number of patients have used this facility.
“Telemedicine provides patients with accessibility and added convenience,” said Dr Manal Al Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare Sector. “The clinics provide specialised consultation in a primary healthcare setting. This is in line with our aim to ensure PHCs are at the forefront of the patient care spectrum.”
Dr Abu Bakr Al Madani, Head of Neurology at Rashid Hospital and Vice President of the Emirates Neurology Society, said, “Technology is radically changing the way we deliver healthcare. The telemedicine facility reduces the number of referrals to hospitals and greatly reduces waiting time for patients who need to seek specialised care.”
PHCs also use telemedicine for detecting diabetic retinopathy.
“All diabetic clinics in DHA PHCs are fitted with digital retinal cameras,” said Dr Al Taryam. “Patients can get their retinal check-up at the centre during their regular follow-up appointment and the films are sent electronically to the retinal team at Dubai Hospital.
“The team then examines the patient file, blood reports and correlates this with the captured images. The basic treatment plan is prescribed based on the reports and only those patients who need further investigation have to visit the ophthalmologists at the hospital.”
Dr Amal Bahroun, Director of Health Centres Department at the Primary Healthcare Sector at DHA, said: “This has multiple advantages. Through telemedicine, we can detect diabetic retinopathy early on. It is cost-effective because healthcare settings do not need to employ ophthalmologists across every health centre. The images can be taken by a diabetic nurse.”
Thirteen digital cameras have been fitted across DHA diabetes clinics.
“In the UAE, diabetic retinopathy is the number one cause of irreversible blindness,” added Dr Al Taryam. “It is important for diabetics to have annual eye screenings to check for any changes in the retina or optic nerve. The earlier we detect it, the easier it is to manage the condition and prevent blindness.
Research has shown that a retinal photograph, even without a dilated eye, can show the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Unfortunately, many people living with diabetes don’t take the time out for eye screenings and we believe that telemedicine will help combat these issues.”
Dr Al Taryam added that telemedicine and remote patient monitoring are becoming an extremely popular tool for hospitals to deliver care to patients and that PHCs at DHA will continue exploring the use of these technologies to better patient-centric care.
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