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 Financial limitations are also of concern as we are still determining who pays for what. Insurance and government would only like to see evidence that eHealth and the now emerging mobile health, can lead to better healthcare at lesser costs.This is not so easy to prove, in a new industry. As more and more pilots deliver results and present evidence, this barrier too will begin to fall.

Considering these challenges, as a telecoms operator we recognise our vital need to be a leader in the sector.We are poised to provide a unique combination of network and customers whose lives we want to improve through better services.

Q: When it comes to eHealth and mHealth technology, how do you identify what the needs are of patients local to this region? A:There are two types of patients typically, that are considered best suited for eHealth and mHealth technology. The first type of patient will use the technology because they require it; they may be suffering from a specific healthcare-related issue, such as a chronic disease. For this segment of the market, conducting a statistical review of market size, defining selection criteria, outlining possible clinical improvements and assessing the overall impact on the cost burden are important initial steps. From this review it is possible to

gather various medical ratios such as the burdens of disease, morbidity, chronic disease comparisons, etc, which dictate what the prevalent issues in the country are and how to measure their improvements.The key is to understand the trends affecting the population. Once an understanding of what diseases and illnesses are more prominent is gained, it is easier to then customize and deploy the care plan and the suitable technology to what is seen as needed. The second type of patient will use it because they want to improve their quality of life: wellness, illness prevention and healthcare awareness are their desired objectives.The needs for this segment of the market are diverse, which would initially prompt an analysis of the intelligence available about the burden of disease in the country, prevalent attitudes and then begin to tackle those by developing new innovative

healthcare service offerings, as well as ways of preventing disease. For instance, if Diabetes is seen as a chronic condition, we can then begin to find new ways to promote healthier living, active lifestyles and appropriate eating habits to promote awareness and wellness. Once these areas are covered, adding more value-added services and enhancing the bouquet of wellness management can be attempted by driving the creation of a sustainable ecosystem – in a real as well as digital and mobile world.

Q: Where are you planning to add value to the regional mHealth eco- system and what are the timescales for this? A: At du, it is our goal to innovate and deliver services and value in all our customer and enterprise segments.We have thus launched a portfolio of current and future products collectively branded as Smart Health, which is constantly expanding. Our current portfolio includes the announcement of Health Call - a 24-7 physician call centre, a strategic partnership with Mobile Doctors 24-7 International; Health Text, a bouquet of SMS-based content services to encourage people to stay healthy (including Quit Smoke, Lose Weight and Live Well) and Health Link, a strategic partnership with Ericsson to deliver remote health for the management of chronic diseases. Our future endeavors will explore

more aspects of the mHealth ecosystem by involving all relevant stakeholders including technological partners, healthcare, regulatory and insurance organizations, pharmaceutical organization and world health agencies.We are constantly developing innovative ways to bring mobility to healthcare.

Q: How would you quantify the value add of mHealth to both the patient and the hospital that implements it? A: Let’s take each separately. Firstly, the patient gains added value by decreasing the amount of money, time, and energy spent on healthcare, which in turn invokes better management and improved health. Using technology - mobile monitoring units, for example - to automate various physical tasks such as visiting a lab or a clinic for simple tests, mitigates the need to get into a car, drive to the site, wait in line, get tests completed, wait for results, and hand them over to the care provider. For chronically ill and infirm patients the traditional methods often are tedious and do not allow for real time monitoring, whereas today, by using a smart phone or devices to get results or consult with a physician over voice, video and data networks, one can obtain the same result with far less effort.These will lead to significant savings in valuable healthcare dollars and resources, and we are confident that it will become the de facto standard of delivering care soon. Within health providers and hospitals,

there are three key benefits which prove the added value that is available through the use of technology. Patient volumes will yield improved profitability – furthermore, patient capacity and efficiency within the hospital will increase as more patients will use technology instead of taking up valuable beds. It will also reduce the average length of hospital days and enable home care, post-operative monitoring and other remote services. And finally, the social and community obligations of hospitals will be better met since they can better contribute to life, wellness and better health for all. To sum up, we understand that

delivering suitable healthcare services through more cost effective e-channels - that improve care, reduce costs and lead to better patient satisfaction, may be the only sustainable clinical and business model for delivering healthcare – whether it is eHealth or mHealth! ■


 MORE INFO: The new m+

Health conference, taking

place during the Arab Health Congress in January 2012, is happening on 24th January. To find register to attend and find out more, visit or call +971 43365161

Arab Health Issue 5 2011 55

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