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Sun 1 Apr 2007 01:12 PM

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Staff urged to update computer skills

Digital illiteracy among staff at the region's medical facilities is placing a massive burden on the region's government financed health care systems, claims a local Foundation.

Digital illiteracy among staff at the region's medical facilities is placing a massive burden on the region's government financed health care systems, claims a local Foundation.

ICDL GCC, which is the regional government body of the International Computer Driver Licence digital literacy programme, has urged healthcare facilities across the Gulf to train their staff in the latest technologies designed to make their lives easier.

"The Middle East is very behind on digital literacy," said Jamil Ezzo, director general, ICDL GCC Foundation. "There is very limited access to technology on the administrative side."

Ezzo believes that health care systems supported by information technology and computer skilled staff would increase efficiency, improve the quality of care provided to patients and reduce medical errors.

"Internationally, studies have shown that hundreds of lives in the UK are lost, and thousands in the US, through medical errors," he said. "This is partly because people do not have updated records, or through poor communication in healthcare facilities. Digital care could prevent a lot of the errors that occur during the administrative part.

"Although the healthcare industry was one of the early adopters of technology, other industries such as banking, retail and shipping have surpassed in transforming the way they do business through the adoption of information technology," he continued.

"Today, the healthcare industry still lags behind and its growing cost remains to be an increasing burden on government-financed healthcare system and employer-based health insurance, placing the local economies at a competitive disadvantage. Our call on the healthcare sector to adopt digital literacy for its employees is not only based on economic grounds but also for humanitarian reasons to save precious lives," he added.

However Ezzo went on to say that initiatives in the region are gaining momentum with many GCC health authorities and hospitals implementing or considering implementing the ICDL standard organisation-wide.

"Investments are spearheading the development of the national healthcare industry, resulting in the UAE currently being ranked as the fourth most developed Arab State according to the latest UN Human Development report," he said.

The ICDL program is available region-wide with a syllabus consisting of seven modules designed to cover the key concepts of computing, its practical applications and their use in the workplace and society. The course aims to provide a solid base of computing skills to enable graduates to feel confident when using computers.

An additional eighth module has been expounded by the ECDL Foundation to cater for best IT practices within the health sector administration environment, with part of this health module open to customisation, according to the special environment and requirements of specific healthcare organisations.

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