This past week concluded Arab Health, an expansive annual conference hosted in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which addresses all topics related to healthcare pertinent to the Arab world (i.e., all of healthcare). Having started close to 50 years ago actually, the conference sees major representations from all Persian Gulf states and beyond. This year was no exception with solid presence from the UAE of course, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar.
Of note, all Gulf states would benefit from telemedicine, without exception, and particularly from inpatient telehealth, and even more precisely, Tele-ICU. Let’s look at Dubai Healthcare City in the Emirates. Among other reasons, a primary driver for the creation of DHC is a venue for medical tourism, for those to travel into the UAE, to get high quality healthcare. And, in the case of Emirati nationals and residents, to avoid medical tourism, i.e., so they are less likely to see any benefit of traveling abroad to get specialized or otherwise high quality care (which of course goes hand in hand with the corollary, which is to highlight and obviate the negative of being far from home and family in the UAE which receiving care when traveling abroad for such purposes). It certainly makes sense for DHC to have the world’s most qualified experts treating their patients, whether the physicians are treating DHC patients remotely via telehealth or at the bedside. With regard to eICU, it’s much better even if you’re from Abu Dhabi, to have a family member treated by the world’s best physicians, in Dubai, rather than going let’s say to Germany for intensive care treatment, to speak nothing of the risks associated with transferring a patient, let alone the increased risks of a long distance transfer and especially over an international border, and even further since it would require multiple airports and a multi-hour flight.
Let’s look at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a moment. A vast space, it’s similar to the United States in many key ways. Geographic distance is always an important factor in telemedicine and in particular with Tele-ICU. In other words, the more far flung critical patients are in more isolated and less populated areas, the less likely there are to be the most qualified specialist ICU physicians there. So, again, to get the best treated even within the Kingdom could means having to travel to a large city like Jeddah or Riyadh, and there are risks with traveling. Sometimes depending the acuity level of the patient, travel of any distance, even to a regional center, is simply is impossible.
RemoteICU is well positioned to organize TeleICUs in any Gulf state, having been involved in projects in the region for years, and can also provision permanent physician staff at the hospitals to monitor patients.