Dubai Future Accelerators: Ahmed Elmeligi with the neuro-band to detect and prevent strokes. Image Credit: Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary / Gulf News

Dubai: Preventive health is being taken to the next level by deploying innovative health devices in Dubai soon.

These include health pods to be installed at airports and malls, providing free total health screening; an app-based health doctor; a neuro head band to detect and nip stroke in the bud; and a chip-based artificial pancreas to constantly monitor the patient’s blood glucose levels in the ICU and provide insulin or glucose instantly to improve healing and recovery.

The innovative projects are on display at the Dubai Future Accelerators programme. The programme which was launched in 2016 has had over 4,000 companies competing since its inception and has entered its fourth cycle this year.

The fourth cycle has some very exciting health care innovations brought in by seasoned professionals and young entrepreneurs from around the world. These gadgets and gizmos based on artificial intelligence are likely to revolutionise Dubai’s health care sector in the coming years.

Dr Mohammad Al Reda, director at the executive office for Organisational Transformation that is directly managing the innovative projects, told Gulf News that disruptive technology is available everywhere in the world today.

In Dubai, the combined staff strength in private and public heath care centres is more than 100,000.

“With the successful implementation [of the innovative solutions], we will cater to the health needs of over 200 nationalities. This is the best testing ground for health care gizmos as our society is culturally diverse.

"We are determined that whatever technology is out there on the planet, we accelerate and facilitate its availability in Dubai,” Al Reda said.

Here are the four new projects waiting to be launched in Dubai health care scene by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA):

Babylon health app: A doctor in your pocket

This health app that was introduced in 2014 in the UK has over 2.2 million users worldwide, especially in the UK, will soon be available to Dubai residents on Android, iOS and other web platforms.

According to Connor McCarthy, one of the partners managing the pilot project at Dubai Future Accelerators, the app uses cutting-edge AI technology and best available medical expertise to deliver 24/7 video consultations with doctors across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.

The way the app works is through an AI chatbot and a live question-and-answer session with the user. The user can discuss the symptoms he or she has, and based on that, the app guides the patient to the right doctor.

McCarthy said, “This app is the primary health physician on National Health Service in the UK. Our role is to provide preventive health consultation where we do not wait for a patient to be sick.

"Based on information on his fitness, nutrition, physical exercise and medical history, the app is able to provide key information about all major anatomical systems. It creates a digital twin of the user giving health information in real time based on conditions of the vital organs.”

The collaborators are currently working in close association with the DHA to tweak the app in line with the cultural requirements of the region and in all likelihood Babylon will be available in Dubai in a couple of months.

Nuero head band

It can save stroke patients and prevent any debilitation.

The neuro head band is the unique brain child of Ahmad Al Meligi, a young biomedical engineer from Canada who created this innovative device to detect a patient undergoing a stroke within minutes, alert the caregiver, the ambulance and the emergency within minutes thereby preventing any deterioration.

Al Meligi from Health Care and Innovative New Technology (HINT), the start-up that is promoting the neuro head band, told Gulf News: “Nearly 30-40 per cent strokes happen only after a warning mini stroke called Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).

"We are working closely with Rashid Hospital in a pilot project where patients who suffered TIA will be given these head bands for two weeks to wear while they sleep. This is the high-risk window of reoccurrence of a full-fledged stroke.

"If a patient wearing the head band is experiencing stroke symptoms in his sleep, the head band is programmed to alert the care giver, the hospital emergency and the ambulance so that the patient gets immediate help within the stipulated safe window of four hours. This way, the patient suffers no debilitating damage to his/her health.”

Dr Soheil Al Rokn, specialist neurologist and head of the Rashid Stroke Speciality Unit, said: “In a stroke, every minute counts and this kind of preventive intervention can save many patients from debilitating deterioration of stroke. Worldwide, the average age of stroke is 65 years and above, whereas in the UAE it is between 45 and 55 years.”

Dr Al Rokn added that the Rashid Stroke Speciality Unit has been working with HINT on a pilot study with 55 patients who have had TIA and are at high risk. “Once this study is over, we will introduce the neuro-band to the region in the last quarter of 2018.”

Health pods from Bodyo

Bodyo is one of the few organisations from the UAE planning to produce the health pods indigenously. The pod is a cubicle where residents can step in and be screened for body temperature, blood sugar, blood pressure, body composition such as height, weight and other such vital parameters, free of charge. The AI-assisted pod can instantly give the user an idea of his state of health where he can go in for a preventive health check-up. The procedure is simple and takes not more than 13 minutes the first time.

Tariq Husain, director of Bodyo, said, “The patient enters the pod and feeds in all information about his vitals (vital details) such as his food preferences, allergy information, aches, pains or ailments and then the pod gets his blood sugar, blood pressure and other vitals tested.

"The data from the screening is privately shared with the subject and he can share his vitals with the clinic or doctor of his choice. Alternatively, based on personal health information, the device will devise a tailor-made programme for the subject to keep him on track to health.”

Hussain who is working on a pilot project with the DHA plans to roll out 40 health pods in various locations in Dubai by the first week of August 2018.

Flow cell sensors

The flow cell sensors will detect sudden drops in vitals in ICU patients. Admetsys is the fourth company chosen for the Dubai Future Accelerators’s current project. The US-based company headed by endocrinologist Dr Timothy Valk and director of clinical research Carol McMorrow has worked out a system of auto-monitoring of patients in the ICU.

Dr Valk explained: “Patients in the ICU usually have seriously fluctuating vitals such as their blood sugar, lactic acid and hematocrit [The percentage by volume of red blood cells in a given sample of blood after it has been spun in a centrifuge].

"Any impairment in these vitals plays a very important role in healing and recovery. It is very difficult for a nurse to constantly monitor these levels.

"Our AI-based chip sensor has an algorithm that measures these vitals constantly and it can be read by a nurse on the monitor at a glance. Any drop or rise is alerted by an alarm system. This saves vital time for the nurse and makes constant monitoring possible.”

The flow sensor has had three trials with the US-based FDA and is expected to be approved by the European Food and Drug Administration and has been proven to reduce mortality by 30 per cent.

The sensor will be introduced first in Dubai Hospital by early 2019.