(MENAFN Press) Chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension could be better managed with smart technology, freeing up hospitals for acute conditions. Speaking at the Dubai Health Authority's (DHA) CIO forum "Managing chronic diseases through multi-channel technology" Jesus Maria Fernandez Diaz, International Director, Oracle Healthcare Industry Business Unit, said: "Dubai has a very clear need to develop different models to take care of those patients who require continuous and preventive healthcare service."
The forum was held to discuss DHA's strategies to develop healthcare services and how they can benefit from the use of smart technology.
The discussion highlighted significant challenges in dealing with some chronic conditions, especially diabetes. Dubai is ranked 15th in the world by the International Diabetes Federation for prevalence of diabetes at 18.98% of the population, with a mortality rate of 18.6% of sufferers.
According to the data coming from the International Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, eight diseases placing the heaviest burden on healthcare resources in the UAE are chronic conditions, including physical conditions such as strokes and cardiovascular diseases, as well as mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety disorders.
"Hospitals should deal mainly with more acute and complicated chronic conditions," said Fernandez. "We need to provide a different environment for chronic patients, so they can take better care of their condition,
Oracle presented its Healthcare Management Platform, a solution that manages all the information and interaction between health providers and the patients, allowing a continuous relationship between the two. This is done through different channels, including portals, cell phones, social media and others.
"The key to successful management is empowering the patients to take responsibility for their condition, but at the same time give them easy-to-use tools and a personalised communication channel with their healthcare provider," said Dr Fernandez. "In this way the patients have the security of knowing the status of their condition, the ability to take action if needed, and still have ready access to a hospital as a last step.
"Today patients regard the hospital as the single point for managing their condition. A smart solution such as the one Oracle provides is more efficient, more cost- and time-effective for the patient, and reduces the burden on hospitals significantly."
The attendees looked at some innovative experiences worldwide, including the Basque Country, where 77% of the healthcare budget was spent on treating chronic conditions. It introduced smart technologies to take care of chronic patients, wherever they were, at home or at their work places. The region used technologies such as telemonitoring and mobile phones to provide an easy and familiar way for patients to monitor their condition and get continuous feedback on their progress in managing it. The healthcare authority introduced an electronic patient record which provided a 360 degree view of all patients' medical care and interventions, which was available to healthcare providers at all facilities in the region. According to Oracle the Basque county reduced its consultation costs by 60%.
In this and other cases smart technologies are having a positive impact not only on the quality of care, but also in terms of healthcare costs. People on telemonitoring projects in the Basque Country showed a reduction in mortality rates in a two-to-three year period as well as a reduction of between 20% and 30% in the number of hospital admissions - thus reducing the cost of these patients for healthcare providers and insurers.
"The population in Dubai is already familiar with the use of mobile technologies for other kinds of services such as banking and shopping," added Fernandez. "The government's Smart City initiative will certainly prompt closer scrutiny of the healthcare needs of people in Dubai; managing chronic disease in a smarter way would make a significant difference to not only the health of its citizens, but to planning and budgeting for new facilities the city will need in the future