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Saudi eHealth Conference 2012

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Saudi eHealth Conference 2012 
14 Mar 2012

The events of the Saudi eHealth Conference 2012 concluded yesterday March 13, 2012 which was held from 11-13 March 2012 at King Faisal Conference Hall (Intercontinental Hotel) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The event was attended by many high level officials, executives, professionals and technical people working in healthcare services as well as those interested in the prospect of the advancement of electronic technology in the health sector where the number of registries exceeded 4000.

The conference was under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Miqrin bin Abdulaziz, Director General of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, and organized by King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences (KSAU-HS) in cooperation with the Saudi Association for Health Informatics (SAHI). It hoped to bring together both healthcare providers and information technologists to empower the advancements in the delivery, quality, and continuity of health care.

Running in parallel with the E-Health Conference was an exhibition focused on Hospital Information Systems, Picture Archiving & Communications Systems (PACS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for Healthcare, Emerging Technologies in Healthcare, Telemedicine & Medical e-Learning.

On the first day audience were presented with the official Launching of Phase I of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Arabic Health Encyclopedia. The Encyclopedia started with the innovation born with the need for credible health information in the Arabic language to serve the great Arabic speaking population. During studies preceding its development, it was noted that only 4% of Arabic sites meet the required standards. People were not able to find sufficiently reliable and trustworthy information on Arabic medical websites and as such they would turn to foreign websites providing more reliable medical information. Therefore, the Encyclopedia was developed to establish a certified medical reference site which meets with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Health On the Net Foundation (HON) standards.

King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences (KSAU-HS) in collaboration with the Saudi Association for Health informatics (SAHI) initiated this important project in May 2010. Consequently, the National Guard Health Affairs (NGHA), with the support of the WHO and in collaboration with the Health On the Net Foundation (HON), having the expertise in the dissemination of trustworthy medical information, developed this Encyclopedia.

The Encyclopedia targets regular users seeking general health information and patients seeking specific information regarding medication and surgery. It has personalized services and interactive applications presented in a clear and easy-to-use manner tailored to the needs of different target groups. It will provide high quality information that is accurate, up-to-date and complete in a language and format that can be accessed anywhere in the world through computers and mobiles. 


This Arabic Encyclopedia will also aid health professionals and institutions who can utilize the information to improve dialogue with their patients and to register their healthcare facility. With regard to the source of content, the project team has decided on relying on health information produced by WHO, National Health Services (NHS) and PEI, in addition to health information produced by Arab health professionals. Agreements were signed between the Encyclopedia and these organizations for content syndication.

As an international model for public information on health NHS gives patients more control over their own health and publishes clinical indicators on the quality of care in hospitals for patients in simple to understand formats. 

The second day focused on Consumer Health Informatics, mHealth, Tele-expertise and Healthcare Information Systems (HIS & PCIS). Speakers talked about innovations such as Smart Rooms that had a 60% reduction in task time, simplified work flow and raised patient satisfaction. Also, discussed were Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) systems to reduce the time it takes to diagnose when symptoms appear.

The importance of technology’s role in healthcare was stressed as well as the larger part the internet and mobile devices currently play. Mobile devices were found to expedite decision making more than 50%. Remote consultations are becoming more common solutions that provide patients with the access to more doctors and enhance patient experience. Additionally, data sharing optimizes primary care but also anticipates pathology and connects hospitals to patients throughout huge a geography and within the hospital itself.

Telephone based tele-consultations help in treating patients on a distance through simply listening to what they have to say and sometimes seeing some pictures they send. Patients will start using remote diagnoses more and more. Increasingly, cell phones are becoming diagnostic tools. Mobile phones are cost affective, easy to carry and simple to operate with vast coverage, making it an affective healthcare delivery tool.

Moreover, teletherapy will be more utilized to prescribe medication directly to the closest pharmacy to the patient via email or fax.

In this regard, the College of Public Health and Health Informatics, KSAU-HS introduced the first Health Information System (HIS) Bachelor program in the region which follows the guidelines that are introduced by ABET and AMIA.

The last session of the day discussed collaborative care and how care extends outside of the hospital and into the home and mobile consumers, enabling the right information to reach the right person at the right time. Digital hospital, the telehome and personalized medicine were talked about due to the rise in the percentage of people who check online for medicinal health before seeking medical attention from a specialist.

On the final day, speakers delved into Public Health Informatics and Translational Informatics, Interoperability, Standards, Coding and e-Health Experiences.

One great example of e-Health Experiences is that of King Fahad Medical City which has started integrating mobile applications. A growing number of electronic services via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets were enabled to their uses. Patients will be able to browse their medical appointments and physicians can access detailed patient data wherever they are and also view patient charts and information on a tablet device. 

The day was concluded with a lecture discussing the future building infrastructure for national ehealth transformation to correlate with the advancement the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is making toward greater use of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) across its health systems and the integration of diverse information systems.

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