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

An expert panel will gather during the first day of the event to discuss how digital health can be improved via cross-border collaborations.

WHY IT MATTERS

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

Topics expected to be covered include the Gulf Cooperation Counci’s (GCC) collaboration on CDC surveillance, as well as exploring how data has been used to improve disease mapping across the region. Speakers will also be touching upon cross-border health policy implementation, and the challenges and facilitators that have contributed to successful collaboration between territories.


The session will also present insight on potential cross-border opportunities for the future.

Appearing in “Cross-Border Collaborations: Improving Digital Health” are Badar Awladthani of the Ministry of Health (MOH), Oman, Eng. Fatthi Alkathiry of the Gulf Health Council in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Micky Tripathi from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Ali Juma Alajme of 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. Taghreed Justinia from King Saud bin Abdulaziz University of Health Sciences in Saudi Arabia.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Whilst there are considerable differences in the level of healthcare advancement and the digitalisation between territories across MENA, experts argue that many of these countries share very similar healthcare challenges that could potentially be addressed via cross-border collaboration.

For example, the telehealth market continues to mature in a post-pandemic world – particularly in more developed countries. Digital solutions such as telehealth, as well as other services and technologies can be expanded into developing territories to decrease costs involved in healthcare. Cross-border private-public partnerships could also develop and expand on healthtech opportunities.


But whilst there are opportunities in pre-existing regional alliances that can be leveraged towards improved digital health solutions, there remain challenges between countries in harmonising their digital health solutions between various territories.

ON THE RECORD

One recent public commitment to cross-border collaboration has been by the UAE, with the Dubai Health Authority launching EJADAH, a platform that is expected to form the foundation for value-based healthcare adoption in the emirate. Using data from partnered countries, it will reportedly monitor and assess a number of key performance indicators that will help shape decisions, such as faster claim approvals, and focusing on preventive care in the Gulf nation and beyond.

A programme such as EJADAH would have been challenging to implement without data, of course. One source of this data can be obtained from a national health information exchange, for example.

Alajme – who is Director of the Digital Health Department at MoHAP – explained to Arabian Business late last year how the UAE was successful in collating healthcare data across the country. 

“[During the pandemic] we were able to break the silos between the hospitals and connect them to each other. Prior to coronavirus, accessing and sharing of medical files [among healthcare providers] was a sort of taboo. But regulations, such as the Health ICT law, which was published in 2019, governed the way we access health-data using technology.

“To automate this, we came up with the health information exchange initiative Riayati, which is based on a central and integrated healthcare system with easy access to patients’ health data in the country through linking public and private healthcare facilities.”