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Abu Dhabi: By 2022, public and private hospitals across the country will share medical records for the first time to improve quality of service while maintaining confidentiality, Abul Rahman Mohammad Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, told the Federal National Council on Tuesday.

The unified database will link the complete medical data of all patients, giving all doctors access the information from hospital visits to lab tests from any healthcare centre.

It will enable doctors to make better informed decisions.

For patients, the system will ensure better diagnosis of ailments and empower them with knowledge about their own healthcare history.

Al Owais said, “We plan to link 80 per cent of private hospitals with the central database by the end of next year,”

Al Owais said the new system will check the abuse of health care and wastage of public funds. He cited the case of a patient who made 260 hospital visits in a year. “The patient has been almost a daily visitor of to Ministry of Health hospitals in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and elsewhere,” the minister told the House.

He said by 2022, the health records will be completely digitalised and unified in one database.

The new system will help reduce the number of re-hospitalised patients, unnecessary laboratory and imaging tests, emergency admissions, which will lead to better and more efficient outcomes.

The minister was answering a question put forth by Dr Hawaa Saeed Al Mansouri, a member of the House from Abu Dhabi.

Dr Al Mansouri said healthcare providers dream to have an integrated medical file for every patient to have a better insight into an individual’s health.

She explained the system will improve the UAE’s healthcare services by facilitating the movement and transfer of patients among different healthcare providers, reduce registration times, eliminate duplications, prevent prescription errors and reduce costs.

A unified system will also result in an indispensable database that can be used as a valuable research tool, she said

“The unified medical system provides the UAE with steadily accumulating data on the efficacy and safety of new procedures and medications in the global medical setting. It will streamline administrative systems and promote better outcomes that translate to less utilisation of overall resources,” Dr Al Mansouri said.

Globally, electronic medical records are the single most important tool available to improve patient outcomes and decrease the cost of care. Their introduction positively impacts patients, caregivers, healthcare organisations and the community.

In 2015, the UAE Cabinet approved a unified national database of patients’ medical records that was due to be implemented by 2019.