Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Mobile app gives telemedicine access from Abu Dhabi

Steve Rogerson
March 3, 2015
A mobile application that enables greater interaction between patients and doctors in telemedicine consultations was launched last week by the Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre, a joint venture between Mubadala Development and Switzerland telemedicine provider Medgate.
The centre, which opened in October 2014, uses telemedicine to provide medical consultations over the phone. The new application – TeleMed – is the first of its kind in the UAE and is said to make the tele-consultation process more efficient and personalised by allowing patients and physicians to share medical information, including data and images, on its confidential sharing platform.
“One of the greatest industry trends seen this year at Arab Health was the adoption of technologies to streamline healthcare systems and provide high quality care,” said Semih Sen, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre. “Telemedicine is a great example of how technology can support the diagnosis and treatment process, making personalised, high-quality medical advice both convenient and accessible to patients. The TeleMed app, which is one of the most advanced and interactive healthcare apps launched in the region, was designed to be very convenient and user friendly for patients, enabling them to provide medical information to their doctor at the Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre to support the diagnosis, so that they can get the expert care they need wherever they are, any time of the day or night at the touch of a button.”
There are various user-friendly functions to support the medical consultation process over the phone. For example, Quick Call lets patients contact the centre directly via the app at the touch of a button. The Send Photos feature guides patients on how to take a picture, for example, of an affected skin area or medication label, and securely submit it to a doctor for review. A body map visual is available for patients to mark where they feel pain, or are experiencing a specific issue.
Patients can also search for and locate a specialised doctor in their area for times when an in-person consultation is recommended by one of the centre’s doctors.
“Our physicians are trained specifically in telemedicine,” said Hasan Al Attas, general manager at the centre. “They guide patients through simple self-examination techniques over the phone, and ask a series of questions to help in the diagnosis process. With the TeleMed app, patients now have the ability to securely send images related to their health concern at the touch of a button directly to our state-of-the art patient management system. These images are then channelled into the patients’ electronic medical record, and used confidentially by our physicians in order to help diagnose their medical condition.”
Al Attas said UAE healthcare studies showed patients were visiting health clinics multiple times for each medical condition. The centre is thus a convenient and effective alternative for these patients, enabling them to receive medical advice for various health conditions within minutes of their initial call, without having to experience the long queues and noisy waiting rooms of a hospital or clinic.
“Many of our patients live in areas where they are used to having to drive long distances to speak with a doctor, whereas now their doctor is just a phone call away,” he said. “And now, they can get advice on skin conditions or their medications simply by submitting photos through the app.”
The centre’s services are offered exclusively through the Daman national health insurance company to its Thiqa and Daman Enhanced plan members. About 1.2 million patients across the UAE have round-the-clock access to the centre’s healthcare provided over the phone.