UAE: All medical facilities must offer at least one remote service under new law – News
The new legislation is part of a comprehensive healthcare regulatory framework the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) is working to implement
All medical facilities must provide at least one remote health service, according to new legislation to be issued by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) by the end of this year. This was revealed by Sheikha Hassan Al Mansoori, head of the Strategy and Investment section of the Digital Health Department at Mohap while speaking at a remote conference at Museum of the Future.
Medical facilities must be able to provide at least one of the following services remotely: prescribe medicine, monitor vital signs, perform surgical operations using robots, or provide a basic comprehensive medical consultation.
“We will be filtering all healthcare facilities and checking their level of maturity,” said Sheikha. “They should report to us about what services they are able to provide. If not, we will be holding hands and helping them to progress. By the end of this year, they should have at least one of these four services.”
The new legislation is part of the comprehensive healthcare regulatory framework that the Mohap is working on to regulate all remote health services, and is expected to come into effect by the end of this year.
“When it comes to health services, having regulations is important,” said Sheikha. “There must be medical responsibility when it comes to diagnosis and prescription of medicines. We must have clear rules on this process.”
Need of the hour
Titled Smart Digital Health, the legislation is the need of the hour, according to Sheikha. “Things are changing very fast and new technology is arising every minute,” she said. “Our patients are not always aware what their rights are and what regulations are in place to protect them when availing tele-health services. This legislation will make sure that we have set boundaries and frameworks to use digital health and remote healthcare services.”
During the ‘Remote’ conference, the boom of telehealth services in the UAE was discussed extensively with Dr. Yousuf Al Serkal, the director general of Emirates Health Services, noting that the group had seen a sharp increase of remote health services from 11 per cent before Covid-19 to 76 per cent after it.
Sheikha added that given this increase in demand for remote health services, it was important for Mohap to build trust with their patients. “We wanted to earn their trust [so that they can think] when I use this tele-consultation, there is someone behind me who will protect me if something goes wrong,” she said. “If we don’t do it as a health care sector, we might even lose the confidence and trust[of] our patients or community or customer.”
Dubai’s role as a medical tourism spot
Sheikha stated that the new legislation will cement the UAE’s place as a leading medical tourism spot. “In order to promote healthcare services in the UAE, we are now heading to medical tourism,” she said. “How can we do this without having basic legislation and framework in order to digitalise [the] healthcare sector?”
According to her, providing remote facilities for healthcare is of the utmost importance. “Everything happens remotely, whether it is studying or meetings,” she said. “What about healthcare? The patient is already suffering; I want to make his life easier. Why should he go to a hospital and wait for at least 30 minutes, if not more, when he is sick?”
All healthcare facilities in the private and public sectors must comply with the regulations once they are implemented. Sheikha said this is in the best interest of healthcare providers. “They will be more confident in providing medical treatment because this clearly defines who is liable when prescribing medicines,” she concluded.