Implementation of a Digital Healthcare Vision
By Bill Ruh, CEO, GE Digital, Chief Digital Officer, GE
Healthcare systems around the world face very complex data management challenges. With different systems created in silos that often are not visible between providers, having accurate information to properly diagnose and treat patients can be difficult and costly. We can all agree there is room for improvement, and governments around the world are working to make their systems better through digitization – bringing together a multitude of solutions for complex systems.
At GE, it’s our mission to help industries realize the powerful outcomes promised by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT). We work on making jet engines, manufacturing facilities, and power plants run more efficiently. We also work with Ministries, healthcare providers, and clinics to bring overarching solutions to the healthcare sector.
This year, I’ve visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia multiple times to meet with some of the most visionary leaders in the field of healthcare digitization at the Ministry of Health (MOH). Partnering with GE and others in our global ecosystem, MOH has driven brave, forward-thinking solutions that focus on increased access and a more seamless patient journey, in alignment with Vision 2030. Ultimately, digital solutions seek to improve access and quality, while driving costs down through increased efficiencies.
Currently, a patient’s journey of care in the Kingdom generally starts by a patient visiting a primary health center in-person to secure an appointment, or to an emergency care unit to ensure attention to their given condition, which in many cases may not be of an urgent matter. Often, patients don’t have visibility as to where they need to go to seek care, and may not be aware of the availability of a physician. Additionally, a referral is sometimes needed to a secondary or tertiary facility, which also requires an in-person visit. These steps can require patients to travel vast distances and are impediments to access, as is the case in many countries across the globe.
To help address these kinds of challenges, GE and MOH have deployed Mawid, a digital solution leveraging GE’s application platform for the Industrial Internet of Things, Predix, which has the potential for enormous impact. It is a centralized appointment booking system that is streamlined across various kinds of facilities in the patients’ journey of care, ranging from primary care centers, to hospitals, and specialty units.
Mawid provides the citizens of Saudi Arabia with the ability to schedule, update, and modify appointments using this simple tool at any time, using their smart phones and from the comfort of their own homes. This newly introduced tool covers all primary care centers and hospitals in the Kingdom and has generated approximately four million appointments, with more than 2.7 million patients registered to date. The application also gauges patients’ satisfaction, which is closely monitored by the MOH for continuous improvements Upcoming enhancements to look forward to in early 2019 include the ability to rate physicians and the services provided for a more favorable experience. The analytical ability to harness the data generated by Mawid also provides critical insights for MOH, allowing them to view patient load by geography. This visibility allows MOH and the facilities to better manage services and employee productivity, with the goal of providing optimal care to its citizens.
Another critical solution hospitals can leverage is a cloud-based Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system. This is a digital record of a patient’s entire healthcare journey, replacing the manual, handwritten paper charts previously used. MOH has already deployed the EMR system at Al Kharj Maternity & Children’s Hospital, Al Bukayriyah General Hospital, and Yanbu General Hospital, with plans to scale across the Kingdom. With EMR, patients and providers have increased access to information for diagnosis and treatment through a profile that includes all touch points with different departments and facilities, providing a more holistic view of a patient’s visits, results, and conditions.
Of course, there are myriad solutions in the digital world that can help transform the public health system for the better. Tracking of assets, streamlining patient wait times, and ensuring emergency rooms are adequately equipped are all challenges that digital solutions can help to solve, creating impactful results for a healthier population.
Critical to the implementation and success of digitization is the collaboration between government entities, the public, and partners in the ecosystem, as well as the forward-looking mindset embodied by the leaders at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health. The power of digital health is only starting to become apparent, but for leaders visionary enough to implement them, the benefits to their countries are enormous. We see a bright, digital era on the horizon in healthcare, and we’re excited to be a part of it.
*This article was originally posted on Saudi Gazette.