Dubai: Telemedicine will become an essential part of Dubai Health Authority (DHA) facilities next year with the Robo Doc being launched across all DHA hospitals and Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Dr Moin Fikree, Chief Medical Information Technology Officer, DHA, said.
Speaking at DHA’s stall in Gitex, Dr Fikree said: “The Robo Doc is a self-driving, fully mobile medical machine that can be controlled from anywhere in the world via a smartphone. So if a patient in Hatta Hospital, for instance, comes in with a neurological issue, he can consult a neurologist in Rashid Hospital. The technology will let the specialist examine the patient, hold a two-way communication, look at medical reports, diagnose and prescribe. It not only saves time, but it cuts costs and reaches a larger segment of patients. It can be used for consultation in nearly 70 per cent of the cases ranging from gastroenterology to cardiology and neurology,” Dr Fikree said.
A study conducted on the Robo Doc in California in 2010-16 indicated that it not only increased consultations manifold, but reduced the average cost of hiring a doctor at each centre from $92 per patient to $42.
Dr Fikree added that a pilot study with three Robo Docs has been under way in Dubai since July and doctors were being trained. “We have one device at Hatta Hospital, one at Al Barsha PHC and a smaller one at Nad Al Hamar. Recently, a patient involved in a mini-cardiac emergency was able to consult the Rashid Hospital cardiologist successfully and manage his condition well.”
Currently, DHA is working on the regulations regarding telemedicine as the new Federal Medical Liability Law No 4 of 2016 ensures patient privacy during telemedicine consultation.
“We are working out the modalities of regulation and ensuring we are compatible with the law. We also are making sure that culturally, it is acceptable to the patients to have a remote-controlled machine as part of their consultation. But once this is done, we are going to have a Robo Doc at every station in hospitals and primary health centres and license them for private hospitals as well,” he said.
New dermatology app
A new app provided to all emergency and family medicine doctors will enable patients in remote areas to consult city dermatologists, Dr Anwar Al Hammadi, consultant and head of dermatology at Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said.
The app called Besharity (My Skin) will let a physician upload tests and close-ups of affected skin areas so that a dermatologist can examine the case and begin treatment.
“This will save time [for the patient] and also enable early intervention. In many cases, women feel shy consultating a specialist in office. This app will help them,” Dr Al Hammadi said.
Dermatological problems ranging from acne and eczema to dermatitis and psoriasis are common problems for many in the UAE.
The app will be launched after Gitex ends.