Dubai leapfrog: the UAE’s opportunity to advance health & wellness

Hashed Health’s CEO, John Bass, was honored recently to be asked to speak about healthcare blockchain (specifically remote patient monitoring / wellness) in Dubai at  HIMSS Middle East / Health 2.0 UAE eHealth week. We departed there hopeful that their leaders do realize the amazing opportunity to not re-create our broken system.

The US has good healthcare for most people. It also has expensive/bloated/centralized infrastructure, unsustainable costs, and massive variability in quality for all people. We were a little surprised and a bit concerned when we walked in to HIMSS Middle East and saw EMR-heavy agenda and the traditional vendors in full swing.

The lead sponsors of the event were Cerner, Epic, IBM, Intersystems and Vocera. The day one agenda was purely focused on EMR staging and Health Information Exchanges. The conference started by awarding three local hospitals who had reached the EMRAM Stage 6 EMR adoption. The following presentations on day one included:

  • Vision & Value of Health Information Exchange,
  • The Tipping Point for EMR Adoption in the GCC,
  • Mediclinic’s Experience in Engaging Clinicians in the EMR Selection Process,
  • Clinician Engagement & Productivity at American Dubai Hospital.

For a healthcare technology leader from the US who has attended many HIMSS events, these awards and presentations sounded very familiar. Stage 6 is indeed an incredible accomplishment. It has come with a financial cost and a clinical burden. Clinician affinity for these systems seems to be on par with what we’ve seen in the US (not great). While we are really amazed at the many accomplishments, we also worried that members of the GCC were too closely following in the footsteps of the US system.

But then something cool happened. Outside the auditorium we met with the visionaries. Outside the auditorium we stopped talking about the present and started talking about the future. After talking with leaders at Dubai Health Authority, the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi, the Ministry of Health Saudi Arabia and other regional leaders, we do believe they understand their opportunity is much greater than the stage of their EMR implementation. We were very impressed by the expertise and the strategic vision of the community with whom we were interacting. We found diversity of thought that was refreshing. Outside the auditorium we found why we had traveled all that way.

Our lessons-learned serve as a valuable reference point for countries in the Middle East looking to leapfrog. Future-focused conversations on value-based care, integrated delivery systems, telemedicine, and blockchain / decentralization have an audience at the right levels. We are hopeful, because we sense an attempt to place these strategies on equal footing with the EMR / HIE agenda we have struggled with here in the US.

The UAE has an opportunity to do it better than we have in the US. It is our hope that in doing so, the leadership in the Emirates and Saudi Arabia realize the tremendous opportunity to show the world what real value-based, consumer-focused, sustainable delivery of healthcare looks like.

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