Dubai rolling out robo docs to improve access to specialized health care

Published January 26th, 2017 - 11:00 GMT
Telemedicine is expected to reduce the need for patients to travel to multiple hospitals for consultations. (Shutterstock)
Telemedicine is expected to reduce the need for patients to travel to multiple hospitals for consultations. (Shutterstock)

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has revealed plans to rollout a new tele-health initiative across the emirate.

The pilot phase of the ‘Dubai RoboDoc’ initiative – first unveiled in 2015 – will be completed in March 2017, after which the authority will roll out the initiative across all DHA hospitals and health centers, official news agency WAM reported.

As part of the initial phase, RoboDocs have been placed at Hatta Hospital’s emergency department and DHA’s 24 hour primary healthcare centres at Al Barsha and Nad Al Hammar. They are linked to Rashid Hospital’s Trauma Centre and Dubai Hospital.

The new initiative is hoped to reduce the need for patients to travel to specialized hospitals.

Dr. Moin Fikree, Medical director of the Trauma Centre and lead for the DHA’s Telemedicine initiative, said, “Telemedicine is the way forward in many ways. It ensures immediate access to specialized consultation, which is particularly helpful in emergency situations. It also reduces the transfer of patients to Rashid Hospital’s Trauma Centre and helps enhance the functioning of other DHA emergency departments and ICUs.

“Telehealth is a boon, especially in emergency cases, where time plays in critical role in saving a patient’s life. Telehealth provides immediate access to consultation with specialists. In fact, through the robot, doctors can consult with two or more specialists in different health facilities at the same time to get immediate specialized consultation.”

DHA is using robots designed by InTouch Health Technologies.

“Worldwide studies point out to the growth and benefits of telemedicine. A 2012 study of one health system in the US shows that the number of annual consultations will grow from 350,000 in 2012 to seven million in 2018. Another study of a family practice clinic showed that telemedicine has reduced the cost of consultation from $95 to $45 dollars which is an approximate reduction of 50 per cent in cost,” added Fikree.

Looking ahead, the authority will also extend the Dubai RoboDoc initiative to home-care patients. A nurse will visit them and dial in for tele-consultations if needed.

In future phases, DHA also plans to extend the usage of RoboDocs to ICUs, NICUs and for further consultation purposes.

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