X-Ray being taken at the Medical Fitness Centre, Sonapu Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma / Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to sort out all chest X-ray scans required for mandatory medical fitness for residency purposes. This will streamline the system, cut down processing time and provide a more efficient and consolidated system for issuing results, officials said at Arab Health 2018 on Wednesday.

The DHA signed an agreement with Agfa IT Health Care Systems for validation of the first radiology AI algorithm in the UAE. This is part of Dubai Health Strategy 2021 of using AI and smart systems to streamline health care in the emirate.

The company has been working closely with the DHA and has already begun validation work with one of the largest medical fitness centres currently processing 17,000 chest X-rays per day for medical fitness.

A total of 2,126,066 people visited the DHA-run medical fitness centres last year for new and renewal of visas. A medical fitness test is mandatory for all expats who are screened for HIV and other infectious diseases. The chest X-ray scans are taken for detecting tuberculosis cases.

The DHA has 19 medical fitness centres across the emirate for issuance and renewal of visas. The authority will implement this technology across a few medical fitness centres and then will study the feasibility of expanding it to other centres.

Humaid Obaid Al Qutami and James Jay of Agfa IT Health Care Systems sign the agreement in the presence of Dominique Mineur, Belgian Ambassador to the UAE. Courtesy: DHA

James Jay, president of Agfa, told Gulf News: “On an average, each medical fitness centre processes over 5,000 chest X-rays and nearly 90 per cent of these fall in the normal category. However, the radiologists take time to process this. Our AI system has an algorithm which will segregate the 90 per cent results and flag the remaining 10 per cent, straightaway providing time for potential cases to be examined by radiologists. The algorithm running in the background will standardise the reporting methods and streamline the entire system drastically reducing the time taken.”

Jay added that the agreement signed with the DHA would mandate their organisation to focus on one of the largest fitness centres where the algorithm would run and validate results in one year and establish four Key Performance Indicators. “These are early detection, improved workflow, automated regulation and quick turnaround. We will use these results to consolidate our records and provide quality data in one format.” After validation all 19 centres will adapt to AI in 2019.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will support the Dubai Health Authority’s goal of incorporating the latest technological advancements in the medical field for improved efficiency and enhanced patient-centric care

Humaid Mohammad Obaid Al Qutami, chairman of the Board and director-general of the Dubai Health Authority, said: “We are keen to foster the use of technology in the health sector to improve efficiencies, enhance health-care management and overall workflows and most importantly to further improve patient-centric care. Utilisation of AI in the health sector is also in line with the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence.”

Dr Mohammad Al Reda, director of the Department of Organisational Transformation at DHA, said, “As part of the collaboration, we will work together to establish an imaging strategy for the DHA to enable multi-speciality medical imaging consolidation. We will establish a framework of Artificial Intelligence workflow to augment radiology imaging, including in the area of detecting diseases, and we will collaborate to validate machine-learning algorithms in development.”

Maisa Al Bustani, director of Medical Fitness at the DHA, said: “The move will benefit a vast number of individuals on a day-to-day basis and revolutionalise the way in which radiology imaging is done. The technology will generate automated reports that the doctor will confirm. This will make screening and evaluation more efficient; it will significantly reduce the time taken to receive reports and thus will speed up the overall process.”