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Doctor-less Emergency Rooms

Health specialists in Dubai will soon be able to attend to patients remotely as Dubai Health Authority (DHA) launches the pilot phase of its first telehealth project.

The RoboDoc, that was first introduced in September last year at Hatta Hospital, promises to cut down on waiting times while allowing doctors to operate even when away from emergency rooms and will be introduced in the second phase. The doctor-on-wheels has already saved a few lives that could have been at risk if precious time was spent on transporting the patients from remote areas to Dubai for treatment.

The second RoboDoc has been installed in Nad Al Hammar primary healthcare centre. Introduction of the RoboDoc is also expected to reduce the burden on Rashid Hospital's Trauma Centre which is among the busiest in the region.

"By connecting to Hatta, we can save time by an hour and half and bring it to 10 minutes," said Amani Al Jassmi, Director of Information Technology at the DHA.
"DHA is the first government health organisation in the region to implement telehealth. It can ensure consistent high quality of care, anytime, anywhere and any place due to the remote robot systems," she said.

"As part of the pilot, a robot has been placed in Hatta Hospital's emergency department and it is linked to Rashid Hospital's Trauma Centre. Multiple specialists from the Trauma Centre can provide immediate consultations for a patient in Hatta hospital. Thus, the RoboDoc will help reduce transfer of patients to Rashid Hospital's Trauma Centre."

Al Jassmi added that another robot has been place in the Nad Al Hammar Primary health care centre, which is a 24-hour health centre, and again this robot will be linked to Rashid Hospital's trauma centre, where specialties can provide immediate medical care.

"Telehealth is a boon especially in emergency cases, where time plays a 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."

"For example, 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. Through this technology we are cutting down in time lapses, providing the patient will immediate access to specialised healthcare, improving medical efficiencies and thus improving the happiness index of our customers," she said.

Al Jassmi added that one robot was enough for each facility. The robots are designed by InTouch Health Technologies which is a company that pioneers in 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.

Yulun Wang, Chairman and CEO of InTouch Health and Past Immediate Vice-President American Telemedicine Association said: "The challenge today for all healthcare organisations worldwide is how to deliver consistent high quality care at lower costs. Telehealth is the answer.... There have been many studies, which highlight that with the right technology telemedicine consultations are just as effective as in-person meetings. In fact, telemedicine consultations can be better than in-patient consultations as well because the computer helps the physician in real time. The computer analyses the images of the patient in real time and helps improve the diagnostic capabilities.

"For example, in dermatology, while the dermatologist examines a patient, the computer can look at the lesion or rash of the patient at the same time and can give the dermatologist suggestions on what the rash might be. A physician is limited by his eyesight but the computer can see and magnify the images. Therefore moving forward, telehealth will not only become a vital tool to provide medical care at any time and place but also a tool to improve diagnosis."
In future, DHA plans to extend the usage of RoboDocs to ICUs, NICUs and for further consultation purposes.

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