Dr Reem Osman, CEO, Saudi German Hospital Group UAE Image Credit: Supplied

Medical technology is a broad field where innovation plays a critical role in sustaining health. Biotechnology, information technology, the development of medical devices and equipment and more have all made significant contributions to improving the health of people around the world.

From small innovations to larger, more complex technologies such as MRI machines, artificial organs and robotic prosthetic limbs, technology has undoubtedly made an incredible impact on medicine.

Dr Reem Osman, CEO of Saudi German Hospital (SGH) Group UAE, tells GN Focus how medtech has transformed the way healthcare is delivered at her hospitals.

Can you elaborate on the role artificial intelligence (AI) plays in your hospital?

AI has been playing a critical role in industries for decades. It has only recently begun to take a leading role in healthcare.

Since the inception, SGH Group has focused on establishing a structured process in all areas of business, especially in IT, because we believe that the right structure will support enhancements such as AI or machine learning.

The right structure also determines digitisation and ensures it produces the correct business output.

AI capabilities allow SGH to add value and support caregivers in the treatment process by providing deeper insights into the patient’s specific condition, lifestyle and behaviour in real time. Automation also increases the efficiency of caregivers by reducing administrative work and providing the necessary information to patients like whether a particular service is covered by their insurance or not.

This initiative takes us one step closer to our objective of continuing to redefine a patient-centric healthcare delivery system, thereby empowering individuals to proactively manage their health.

AI acts as a catalyst to leverage data analytics and better understand the healthcare needs of its customers/patient base, thus empowering SGH UAE to curate personalised care plans, adopt evidence-based practice, predict disease courses and much more to take the healthcare experience and delivery to the next level.

How has SGH been improving its AI capabilities?

Improvement of AI relates to both sides: refinement of process and empowering staff. In healthcare, improved process means less waiting time for patients and quality treatment from staff. SGH always believes the main job of our doctors is patient care; we don’t want a complex system to disturb their main job.

Usage of IT is mandatory, and we ensure that system is user-friendly and easy to understand so that doctors and the team can easily interact with the system.

Health information system supports unified exchange of database that will enable our doctors to access records of a patient in one branch, who can see the past history of the patient in Dubai, refer to patient radiology images and all other data from the comfort of their desktop. We use integrated systems - our EMR, laboratory, radiology, etc., are all connected so that information across different functions is available in real time.

We also provide patients multiple channels of engagement, for example, book appointments online or through the app, making the approval process easier.

AI ensures that the information reaches the patient in the required format. The healthcare industry is highly sensitive; the right information is the key to take the right decision at the right time by the right person – in this case SGH staff. AI systems improved decision-making of staff at all levels.

How does AI add value to patients in terms of experience?

The use of AI starts before a patient books their appointment. It provides patients information in a transparent manner, for example, insurance approval. It fetches the correct data from the system, approval status of the insurance online, and informs patients and the caregiver team, saving time. Once the initial patient profile is available in the system, it automatically fetches all related transactions, without human interaction and errors in documentation and improving efficiency.

How does AI support doctors in their decision-making?

AI helps to adopt evidence-based practice and supports in clinical decision to ensure standard practice and care. Especially in Dubai, where healthcare is tightly regulated and continuous initiatives are taken by the government, it’s more important for the hospital to have a strong system so that compliance can be adopted properly.

How did digital technologies help during the pandemic?

During the pandemic IT was the business driver for every industry. With regard to healthcare, to an extent non-emergency cases were dealt online; business and strategy meetings were carried out beyond boundaries; patients could access reports online; and automated business reports and analytics made operations visible making timely business decisions possible.

The core objective of intelligent automation is to perform more time-consuming and mundane tasks, enabling staff to concentrate on more qualitative patient care.