Abu Dhabi: Starting early in 2018, residents will be able to choose between health care facilities in the emirate of Abu Dhabi by looking through a list of published quality rankings, a top health official has said.
The rankings, which will group health care facilities based on performance level, are part of a drive by the health sector regulator, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad), to push for better quality care, Dr Maha Barakat, director-general at the Haad, told Gulf News.
“We first began gathering data on a series of quality indicators two years ago, [starting with hospitals and pharmacies], and now, we are moving full-speed ahead with quality reform. Once the system is fully in place, what will truly make it unique is that we will be able to monitor patient care in real-time, and use the warning signs to intervene even before patient harm occurs,” Dr Barakat said.
As reported by Gulf News earlier, health care facilities in the emirate have been ranked under the Jawda–Abu Dhabi Health care Quality Index since late 2014.
This improvement has come about simply as health care facilities began reporting their data. Once we publish the rankings, top quality hospitals will be incentivised by bigger patient volumes ...”
- Dr Maha Barakat, Director-general at the Haad
The compilation of the index is a cornerstone of the Haad quality reform, and it rates health care provision in four main areas, including patient safety, effectiveness of care, timeliness of service delivery, and the level of patient-centric treatment provided.
The initiative initially focused on pharmacies and hospitals only, using information collected through electronic insurance claims, lab results and in-person inspections, but the Haad has now extended it to include clinics, diagnostic and rehabilitation facilities, and home-care service providers as well. This means that more than 2,130 health-care providers are now being analysed for quality.
Indicators like surgical site infection, or multiple cases in which there is a development of bedsores in admitted patients, flag to the Haad that the quality of care remains wanting in a hospital, Dr Barakat explained in an example.
“In a real-time system, we could take disciplinary action as soon as such a trend is noticed, thus minimising instances of patient harm,” she said.
The quality reform also includes a host of measures to ensure better patient safety in Abu Dhabi, including a move announced earlier this month that would penalise low-performing health care facilities for poor quality care.
From this month onwards, facilities that score the lowest on the Haad rankings will be informed about deficiencies in the quality of care, and strongly incentivised to correct them. Failing this, the level of remuneration provided to the facility by insurance companies could be reduced.
Since the introduction of Jawda, hospitals have already improved upon timeliness of care, with 87 per cent of the emirate’s 41 hospitals able to meet their patient waiting time targets in 2015 — one of the biggest concerns in the past.
“This improvement has come about simply as health care facilities began reporting their data. Once we publish the rankings, top quality hospitals will be incentivised by bigger patient volumes and a stronger bargaining position with insurance providers, while lower-performing facilities will need to do better or face reduced remuneration,” Dr Barakat explained.
In the long term, the official also hopes to create a unified medical platform that would enhance patient safety further.
“We mandated, on June 1, that patient records on diagnosis, testing and drugs prescribed, and all other details, be completed within 24 hours of a patient encounter. This is a real challenge, and a few facilities still take up to 72 hours. But once our data is updated daily, it will open the door to a unified medical platform, where information would be shared on a digital cloud and be available, as required, to all facilities,” Dr Barakat said.
The patient’s history would then be accessible by practitioners at all medical facilities, thus allowing them to provide more complete and accurate treatment. For example, the doctor would know exactly what medication a patient is on, as well as any recently undergone procedures, so that the care would not harm the patient’s ongoing treatment.
“We have a consortium working on this, and hope to complete the process for medical facilities in the government sector by the end of 2018,” Dr Barakat said.