Dubai: In less than four years, nearly 97 per cent of physicians in the Middle East would be using their mobiles to do more than just talk or use the apps on them. They would be using the handsets to keep track of their patients’ needs in real-time. Currently, about 50 per cent of physicians do so in this region.

“A clinician can access data in real-time from the bedside and won’t need to go to an access point or computer,” said Wayne Miller, Healthcare Director at Zebra Technologies EMEA. “Nurses can use a dedicated smartphone with inbuilt security and features to do the job.

“Mobile technology will reduce the cost of patient care, improve the quality and reduce medication administration errors.”

In the UAE, Zebra has a tie-up with Dubai Health Authority to unify its electronic medical record systems and with operators such as Capital Health in Abu Dhabi, Mediclinic Middle East and Aster DM Healthcare Group.

“Digitisation allows sharing of data and mobility,” Miller added. “Sensors and bar codes can be attached to clinicians, patients, equipment and medicines to stream data. RFID (radio frequency identification) will be a complementary technology, but bar codes will stay for around 20 years. The advantage of RFID is that it can read 20 boxes at a time compared to bar codes’ that do one at a time. RFID will be big in the next five years.”

About the need to regulate data use in health care, he said the need is for best practices. “There are bar codes and QR codes on medicine packets in the EU. If medicine has to be given to a patient, the nurse scans the patient’s wristband and QR code of the medicine. So, the nurse will know where the medicine came from, the batch number and the serial number. If the medicine has to be recalled, we can know the patients the medicine is given to.”

Web-enabled glasses could be making another appearance

The Google Glass did not come to much, but that’s no reason why similar attempts at such product types should not be made again. And find uses in meeting health care needs.

“Believe it or not, health care always follows retail,” said Wayne Miller of Zebra. “Bar codes were used in the retail sector from the early 60s — the health care sector is just realising the value of it.”

“The market is going to adopt the glasses as there are new use cases. When prices come down and technology improves, then the use case will be there.”