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HIMSS22 in Riyadh: Exploring cross-border collaboration in the Middle East

During the first day of the event, an expert panel will meet to discuss how digital health can be improved through cross-border collaborations.

WHY IT MATTER

In this session “Cross-Border Collaborations: Improving Digital Health” (November 20, 13:00 – 13:50), speakers from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and beyond will share concrete examples of how governments and healthcare organizations are successfully collaborate across borders to implement various digital health initiatives. The aim of cross-collaboration is to improve aspects of digital healthcare, such as quality, results, safety, interoperability, sustainability and accessibility of care.

Topics expected to be covered include Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) collaboration on CDC surveillance, and exploring how data has been used to improve disease mapping in the region. Speakers will also discuss the cross-border implementation of health policies, and the challenges and facilitators that have contributed to successful cooperation between areas.
The session will also provide insight into possible cross-border opportunities for the future.

Appears in “Cross-border collaborations: improving digital health” to be Badar Awladthani from the Ministry of Health (MOH), Oman, Scary. Fatthi Alkathiry from the Gulf Health Council in Saudi Arabia, Dr Micky Tripathi from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Ali Juma Alajme from the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) in the United Arab Emirates, Dr. Naeema Alqusser representing the World Health Organization (WHO) in Egypt, and Dr Taghred Justinia from King Saud bin Abdulaziz University of Health Sciences in Saudi Arabia.

THE GREATER CONTEXT

While there are significant differences in the level of healthcare advancement and digitalization between areas in MENA, experts argue that many of these countries share very similar healthcare challenges that could potentially be addressed through cross-border collaboration.

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Thus, the telehealth market continues to mature in a post-pandemic world, especially in more developed countries. Digital solutions such as telehealth, as well as other services and technologies, can be extended to developing areas to reduce healthcare costs. Cross-border public-private partnerships can also develop and expand health technology opportunities.
But while there are opportunities in pre-existing regional alliances that can be leveraged for improved digital health solutions, challenges remain between countries in harmonizing their digital health solutions across different areas.

ON THE RECORD

A recent public commitment to cross-border cooperation is that of the UAE, with the launch of EJADAH by the Dubai Health Authority, a platform that is expected to become the foundation for value-based healthcare adoption in the Emirate. Using data from partner countries, it will reportedly monitor and assess a number of key performance indicators that will aid decision making, such as faster claim approvals and focus on preventive care in the Gulf state and beyond.

Of course, a program like EJADAH would have been challenging to implement without data. For example, a source of this data can be obtained from a national health information exchange.

Alajme – who is director of the Digital Health Department at MoHAP – explained to Arabian Business at the end of last year how the UAE was successful in collecting health data across the country.

“[During the pandemic] we have been able to break through the silos between the hospitals and connect them with each other. Prior to the coronavirus, accessing and sharing medical records [among healthcare providers] was kind of taboo. But regulations, such as the Health ICT Act, published in 2019, regulated the way we access health data using technology.

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“To automate this, we came up with the Riayati health information exchange initiative, which is based on a centralized and integrated healthcare system with easy access to the health data of patients in the country by connecting public and private healthcare institutions.”

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