Arab Health will bring together the biggest players in the global healthcare industry. Medical Times catches up with some of the key figures to find out what's in store for the 2008 event.
Scanning the horizon
Dr James Thrall is radiologist-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and will give the keynote address at the Imaging & Diagnostics Congress.
How do you see the use of magnetic resonance imaging expanding?
MRI is now being used in cancer diagnosis. For example, in prostate cancer it's possible to obtain highly detailed spectroscopy images to distinguish benign from malignant prostate tissue. This will be extremely valuable. There are some MRI enhancement agents - so-called contrast enhancement agents - that light up specific tissues that are targeted to important structures like lymph nodes. This is bringing MRI to the threshold of being used to determine whether a cancer has spread from where it started and to determine whether it has spread to the lymph nodes in the area.
What about PET/CT?
It's terrific, because positronic emission tomography and computed tomography combines metabolic information about what's occurring in a particular tissue with high-resolution anatomic information. Before we could put those two together, we couldn't say with a high degree of certainty that a particular metabolic abnormality was matched up with a specific structure in the body.
Dr C. Martin Harris is chief information officer for the Cleveland Clinic and will be launching the foundation's ‘Virtual Visit' teleconsultation at Arab Health.
Can information technology transform the management of chronic disease?
Information technology must be a part of transforming the way we deliver healthcare services. We will not be able to afford to continue delivering healthcare in just the traditional mode of a physician's office or home healthcare facilities. The sheer number of people who will require services related to managing their chronic conditions demands that we dramatically improve the types of healthcare service we can deliver in alternative settings.
Is the IT-driven medical home likely to become a reality in the next five years?
The movement to deliver healthcare services virtually to the home is in full swing, and will include the capability to see, talk to, and examine a patient, as well as observe certain behaviours such as compliance with medication schedules and completion of necessary physical therapy activities. Although aspects of these virtual services and programmes can be seen in action today, I think that the fully functioning "medical home" will not be realised on a broad scale for perhaps a decade.
Maurice Faber is director of Siemens Medical Solutions, NME region, one of the largest exhibitors at this year's congress.
What is your biggest growing market in the Middle East?
Siemens sees a major growth in the healthcare IT market, which we entered with our Soarian MedSuite HIS solution as well as our Syngo Suite solution. To be able to support our clients professionally we established a ‘centre of competence' with specialists for both solutions in the region. Another major growing market is the molecular imaging market. We will see a growing demand for PET/CT and SPECT/CT diagnoses which we will meet with our high resolution PET/CT.
What's new for Siemens at this year's Arab Health?
Siemens will be showcasing many new products at Arab Health 2008. We will have on show the new MRI 1.5 Tesla ‘Senza' low budget unit, including TIM Technology, and the new MRI 3 Tesla ‘Vertigo' unit with 70cm gantry opening and TIM technology.
The new definition CT generation, the ‘Definition AS' will be on display, as well as a new digital X-ray unit with wireless detector (‘Ysio Wi-D') and ‘Zeego'; which is a new angiography unit with robotic arm and unmatched applications.
City of the future
Dr Muhadditha Al Hashimi is CEO of Dubai Healthcare City, the Emirate's free zone partnership with Harvard Medical International.
What are the big issues facing healthcare in the Middle East?
The perceived low level of quality of the healthcare services. Although Dubai has a long way to go, it may be able to create a new image and differentiate itself from the competition. If Dubai promotes the same level of innovation and quality it has demonstrated in other sectors, such as construction and tourism - it will undoubtedly succeed.
What steps are DHCC taking to achieve this goals?
DHCC's current processes and governance is at the moment established and implemented through the Center of Healthcare Planning & Quality (CPQ). The CPQ is the joint endeavour of DHCC and its strategic collaborator Harvard Medical International (HMI). Through planning, regulation and quality improvement initiatives in partnership with key stakeholders, CPQ aims to become a leading center of excellence in the region.
Isam Moursy is general manager of GE Healthcare for the MEACAT region and predicts that EMR will be the hot topic at this year's congress.
What will be GE's top attraction at Arab Health 2008?
At Arab Health 2008, GE Healthcare will have its biggest presence ever, and we will continue our tradition of launching exciting innovative technologies and solutions. GE continues to focus on the concept of "Healthcare Re-imagined" - re-thinking healthcare as we know it today, as well as building further on the ‘early health' model of care.
In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing the Middle Eastern healthcare industry at the moment?
One of the crucial issues facing the Middle East healthcare industry is the growing demand for healthcare services and rising cost of healthcare delivery. Given the growing rates of diseases such as diabetes, breast cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular conditions across the region, it is economically more feasible to treat these diseases in their early stages.
Wayne Jones is a partner at international law firm Clyde & Co and an expert in emerging health insurance markets.
How successful has Abu Dhabi's implementation of mandatory health insurance been?
All insurance companies and intermediaries who wish to sell health insurance are required to be registered by the Health Authority. The Health Authority also requires these entities to have established a place of business in Abu Dhabi. This has presented difficulties for service providers, with the result that until recently only one third party administrator has actually been registered with the Health Authority.
The scheme has clearly ensured that all expatriates can be assured of healthcare in a manner that is affordable to the expatriate and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, but its implementation is not without challenges. Healthcare insurance is likely to remain a key issue for many years.
Henrik Hoejlund is director of IBM Healthcare Solutions for Northern Europe and Middle East and believes IT will be at the forefront of Arab Health 2008.
Is healthcare now ‘patient-centric'?
I think what we are seeing across all healthcare systems, is that they are moving from the previous clinician-focused approach. Now this is shifting towards a patient-centric view, looking at the patient across all the healthcare events in one life. I think that this paradigm shift, combined with the development in medical technology's and more detailed knowledge about diseases, cannot be done without the use of IT to support it.
What is your biggest growing market in the Middle East? How are you meeting demand?
For IBM we see growth possibilities in a number of countries, with UAE as one of the strongest markets. We will be looking to deliver healthcare solutions in the emerging areas of E-health and clinical business process optimisation.
A clearer vision
Anu Thomas heads up executive marketing communications for Sony Professional Solutions Middle East. Sony is a long-term market leader in imaging technology.
What involvement does Sony have with the healthcare industry?
Sony has traditionally seen itself as a leader in audio and visual technology for over 60 years, and we have capitalised on this expertise in healthcare by providing state of the art quality medical solutions for today's ever demanding industry.
What line-up can we expect from Sony at this year's Arab Health Exhibition?
Our healthcare range will include high-end diagnostic film imagers, CCD cameras, DICOM capture devices, LCD monitors, printers and media. All products have been ruggedly designed for reliability in tough environments and conform to the latest MDD (medical device directive) guidelines.For all the latest health tips & news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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