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DHA to extend telemedicine across all its health facilities

The pilot phase of the Dubai Health Authority’s 'Dubai RoboDoc' initiative will be completed in March 2017, after which the authority will roll out the initiative across all DHA hospitals and health centres, according to a top health official. 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. 

DHA is the first government health organisation in the region to implement 'telehealth'. As part of the pilot, 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 and they are linked to Rashid Hospital’s Trauma Centre. 

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 specialised 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 ICU’s. 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 specialised consultation." 

Doctors from Hatta Hospital will be able to consult with a neurologist from Rashid hospital and a cardiologist from Dubai Hospital at the same time. 

Dr. Fikree said, "Through this technology, we are cutting down in time lapses, reducing the need for patients to travel from Hatta or other areas to Rashid Hospital, and providing them with specialised health services." 

"Worldwide studies point out to the growth and benefits of telemedicine. A 2012 study of one health system in the USA shows that the number of annual consultations will grow from 350,000 in 2012 to 7 million in 2018. Another study of a family practice clinic showed that telemedicine has reduced the cost of consultation from 95 dollars to 45 dollars which is an approximate reduction of 50 percent in cost." 

DHA is using robots designed by InTouch Health Technologies, a company that pioneers remote present robots systems to enable healthcare professionals to provide more effective and efficient healthcare by allowing them to be in two places at once. 

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

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