FNC Speaker Dr Amal Al Qubaisi and Abdul Rahman Mohammad Al Owais engaged in a discussion on the sidelines of the FNC session in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Publishing a medical advertisement without a licence will attract a fine of between Dh100,000 and Dh200,000, according to a new Federal Bill passed yesterday (Tuesday) by the Federal National Council.

The new legislation also prohibits handling, transferring or storing of medical records and health information outside the country. Those who violate this article will face a fine ranging between Dh500,000 and Dh700,000.

Punitive measures against health facilities which violate the law will range from written notice, written warning, to a fine between Dh1,000 and Dh1 million through to temporary suspension and cancelling of permission to use the central information system.

Members of the Federal National Council yesterday passed the draft law on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in health care facilities across the country.

Members of the House stressed ICT is a major factor that will support the achievement of UAE’s various health care objectives, both in the short and long term.

The ICTs-based health care law will be applicable to all health facilities across the country including those in free zones.

Abdul Rahman Mohammad Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention and Minister of Federal National Council (FNC) Affairs, said the new law envisages developing state-of-the-art, patient-centred health care delivery systems that match the best global standards and rank among the best in the world.

Innovation and excellence is a major theme of the health care development strategies of GCC member states. The UAE is at the forefront of such developments, with the UAE Vision 2021 aiming to create a world-class health care system.

UAE hospitals have already introduced smart medical records, enhancing how, where and why patient information is collected and stored. On the back of such advances, health and wellness tourism increased 12 per cent last year, with 350,000 visitors recorded.

According to the draft law, patients’ medical records and health information must be kept safe and private by all medical and health care professionals, and all health care facilities such as hospitals and clinics. The medical records and health information may not be released without written approval from the patients, except for information required by insurance companies and health care providers for review and approval of medical treatment, scientific and clinical research provided that ethics are met, preventive measures on request from health facilities and judicial authorities.

The draft law sets the minimum retention period of medical records and health information at 25 years.

The new legislation makes it illegal to publish any medical advertisement without a licence. It authorises the Ministry of Health and Prevention to ban websites which publish advertisements without licence from the ministry.

In the realisation of these ambitious health care goals, health care industries across the GCC states are expected to post double-digit annual growth rates over the coming years. And in the context of the growing local health needs and the prevailing medical focus on chronic diseases, GCC health care systems are also expected to undergo a major transformation going forward.

The ministry will set up a central system for storing and exchange of medical records and health information. The law obliges all health facilities to join the central system.

The ministry will also develop ICTs policies and carry out ICTs initiatives and programmes.

The ministry will also ensure integrity and credibility of the medical records and health information, according to the draft law.

The Cabinet will issue executive rules of the law within six months from the date of publishing this law in the official gazette.

The law will become effective three months after publishing in the official gazette.