Healthcare IT in UAE

An innovative transformation

John R Hawkins

John R Hawkins

Director Information and Technology Services Abu Dhabi Health Service Company (SEHA), UAE.


The UAE Health Authority (HAAD) is defining health data standards to ensure that providers and insurers are reporting data consistently; HAAD is leveraging this empirical data to drive population based healthcare reforms and healthy lifestyle initiatives.


In your experience, how has IT helped improve patient care, what are your expectations from it in the coming years?

Health Information Technologies are streamlining patient care and providing data to foster improved and faster clinical decision making. The SEHA ecosystem is implementing an Electronic Medical Record which will be seamless across 14 hospitals and 65 clinics. Patient Data will be accessible throughout our ecosystem which will drive efficiencies and reduce duplicate procedures. I expect that HIT will continue to drive efficiencies at the clinical level, and that researchers will begin to drive population based disease management initiatives which will drive continuous healthcare improvements for the citizens of Abu Dhabi. Last, I expect that social networking tools like Facebook will flourish to launch online communities focused around diseases or conditions to improve patient awareness and information sharing.

Considering that a majority of Asian countries are still developing, do you think Asia is ready for the rapid technological changes shaping healthcare globally?

Asia and the Middle East are uniquely positioned to harness and implement new technologies during this period of rapid growth and development. In addition, these emerging markets can learn from legacy markets to harvest the best of bread for hardware, software, and communication tools.

What is the scenario in United Arab Emirates (UAE)?

Healthcare in the UAE is undergoing innovative transformation to better meet the needs of the current as well as the anticipated population growth. Brand new state-of-the-art hospitals are being designed and built. Insurance reforms are shifting the healthcare economic risk from a government funded model to a more traditional managed care model. The UAE Health Authority (HAAD) is defining health data standards to ensure that providers and insurers are reporting data consistently; HAAD is leveraging this empirical data to drive population based healthcare reforms and healthy lifestyle initiatives. Hospitals are investing in new healthcare technologies, albeit, Software Based, or Therapeutic based. These innovative initiatives are transforming healthcare in the UAE.

How do you see the adoption of PHRs and EMRs in Asia? Do you think Asian hospitals are prepared to shift toward the trend?
There is a convergence of consumers, technologies, and providers that are driving the adoption of PHRs and EMRs. Consumers are demanding PHRs to facilitate ownership of their healthcare, to become smarter consumers, and live healthier lives. Technology companies are providing the hardware, software, security, and communication tools to integrate disparate data elements to create the PHRs and EMRs. Providers, regardless of structure: government funded, for-profit, or non-profit, are driving the deployment of EMR to foster improved and more efficient clinical decision making. The convergence of these three vectors—the consumers who are demanding it, technology companies who are supplying it, and the providers who are leveraging it are all driving the adoption of the PHR and EMR. Asian hospitals, and the community are well prepared to shift towards this trend.

What are the areas of Healthcare IT (HIT) that you think need to be further developed?

I am excited about extending the HIT footprint beyond the clinical walls and into the patients home. This extension will be fueled by the development of integrated technologies traditionally found in the clinic, e.g. blood pressure, blood sugar or wound management tools that are connected electronically to the PHR or EMR. Imagine a patient living in a digital home, where the blood sugar is measured and tracked electronically which is correlated to the diet and the exercise program all connected electronically through components like the smart refrigerator and work-out equipment. Extending the HIT footprint into the home will foster patients owning their own healthcare, to allow patients to see the benefits of healthier lifestyle choices, and to avoid costly hospitalisations.

John R Hawkins is the Director of Information and Technology Services for SEHA. In his role, John provides strategic healthcare information technology direction and IT management oversight for 14 hospitals and 64 primary care clinics in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. John has over ten clinical years as a registered radiological technologist. Most recently, John worked for Intel Corporation as a Manager in Information Security and Controls Operations. John combines his clinical experience with over ten years of Information Technology Management.