Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health and GE deliver the first phase of its digital health MOU
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health and GE have delivered the first phase of its landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) focused on digital transformation in healthcare.
Driving positive change in the Kingdom’s healthcare sector, it will aim to implement innovative digital solutions to support the country’s National Transformation Plan and the aims of Saudi Vision 2030.
One of the country’s key technological solutions is the launch of cloud-based Electronic Medical Record (EMR), a to store an entire healthcare journey through a digital platform.
GE’s comprehensive and secure Predix platform for Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications enables the ability to store large volumes of patient data, and is optimised for high volume, low latency, and integration-intensive data management and analytics to drive positive patient outcomes and high quality of care.
The EMR platform is currently utilised in three main MOH hospitals in the Kingdom: Al Kharj Maternity & Children’s Hospital, Al Bukayriyah General Hospital, and Yanbu General Hospital.
Through Predix, healthcare providers and patients will gain increased access towards diagnosis and treatment, where a user’s profile will detail all touch points with different departments and facilities.
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This will therefore enable health professionals to look at the process of certain medical conditions and identify when patients need to be seen. It will also seek to reduce the number of manual based errors, such as incorrectly inputting data, as well as turnaround times. The technology will therefore provide a holistic view of patients’ visits, results, and conditions.
Through the partnership, the Ministry of Health and GE have co-created a bespoke tool that encourages fast adoption through ease-of-use. While some hospitals have as many as 200 disparate systems, EMR has integrated the clinical, laboratory, nursing, pharmacy, radiology, finance, and pathology departments into a single platform.
A training programme has also been established for both users and vendors within hospital networks through this flexible, scalable platform.
“This is a significant step in the transformation of the Kingdom’s healthcare sector in line with the goals of our leadership to enhance patient care and deliver the highest quality of service,” explained H.E. Dr. Tawfiq Al Rabiah, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health.
“The welfare and well-being of our people is a fundamental priority of the leadership, and we see significant opportunity in leveraging digital solutions for boosting healthcare delivery. GE’s partnership with MOH is a pioneering example of how Saudi Arabia is redefining our healthcare landscape through best-in-class solutions.”
John Flannery, Chairman and CEO of GE, said, “This new innovative technology will deliver tangible, game-changing results for healthcare providers and patients across the Kingdom. The more relevant information that healthcare providers have about their patients, the better positioned they are to serve their needs.”
Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025.
At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance.
Meeting regulation requirements
It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.
Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.
However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.
Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk.
With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?
Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.
Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.
Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools.
When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.
To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone.