Dr Moin Fikree , Clinical Director and Consultant - Rashid Hospital Emergency and trauma centre operating the Robotic Doctor by treating a patient suffering from a stroke in Hatta Hospital. Image Credit: Maria Botros/Gulf News

Dubai: Patients needing services of highly specialised doctors in Dubai can soon avail of the services of Robo Docs, a technology that will treat and diagnose health conditions, said Dr Moin Fikree, Clinical Director and Consultant at the Rashid Hospital Trauma Centre.

As the first doctor in the UAE to navigate the Dubai Robo Doc technology at Rashid Hospital, Dr Fikree clarified that the technology was recently introduced in Hatta Hospital for trial and testing purposes.

The Dubai Robotic Doctor is a mobile camera-head on wheels familiar with room numbers across the hospital and can respond to demands made by the practising doctor. Dr Fikree said that the current demonstration of the Robo Doc will help doctors better understand the different uses of the Dubai Robo Doc, however, it will only be implemented in other hospitals after Gitex, the annual information technology exhibition held in Dubai.

Dr Fikree added that after the official launch of the Dubai Robo Doc in the UAE, doctors will be brought to patients rather than the other way around.

Details of the Robo Doc were unveiled at the two-day interactive forum launched by Dubai Health Authority to develop the Dubai Health Strategy.

“The central objective of a robust health system is to ensure that through various preventive and educational initiatives, its population achieves and maintains an improved health status and that, in times of need, everyone has easy access to the highest quality of health services,” said Humaid Obaid Al Qutami, Chairman of the Board of the DHA, who inaugurated the forum.

At DHA’s event, titled ‘Dubai Health Towards the Future’, more than 90 medical professionals from both the government and private sectors came together to discuss Dubai’s current health-care situation. Innovations introduced within the health sector were also discussed as they are contributing to the constant development of health care in Dubai.

Explaining the function of the Robo Doc, Dr Fikree said that specialised doctors at Rashid Hospital sit in front of a laptop screen as the Robo Doc manoeuvres across the hospital until it reaches the desired patient.

“Once it reaches the patient, I can examine them, speak to the doctor physically present, analyse X-rays, laboratory work-ups, make an opinion and notify the doctor next to the patient to start the treatment,” he explained.

“From what we have seen so far, it is extremely effective. This is the trend worldwide and is one of the key medical waves when looking at tele-health,” he said. “If a specialised doctor for your case is not present in the closest hospital to you, we bring to you the doctor through the Robo Doc.”

However, he added that not all medical services can be done remotely and sometimes visiting a doctor is necessary.

However, Dr Sven-Olaf Vathje, partner at Oliver Wyman, explained that though visiting doctors can be necessary in some cases, 60 per cent of the emergency room visits in the UAE and the region are not emergency cases.

He added that the majority of the 60 per cent cases should be treated in urgent care clinics or primary care centres.

“To fix this issue, change management for the populations is needed,” said Dr Vathje. “Start by educating patients about new facilities made available for them and incentivise the use of urgent care clinics by building them next to hospitals, forming a triage unit.”

He clarified that if patients are not sure where they need to go for assistance, they can easily be redirected by doctors to the correct facility located nearby.

At the DHA event, doctors also highlighted patient satisfaction and clarity of communication between patients and doctors. A stand was also dedicated to the recently launched Saada programme, the smart insurance scheme, designed for UAE nationals and initiated by DHA.