When Covid-19 arrived in Qatar, the state’s Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) was well-prepared to protect the people most at risk from the virus and keep transmission rates low. Thanks to their electronic health record (EHR) system, they could quickly identify patients with underlying health conditions that would make them more vulnerable to the disease and limit their access to health centers where they could be put at risk.
Their EHR is provided by Cerner, who mark their 30th anniversary operating in the Middle East this year. Established in seven countries across the Middle East, they cover approximately 30 million (or 27 million+) unique patients, and have been voted “Best in KLAS” for Acute Care EMR (Middle East/Africa) for the last three years.
“We had a huge advantage by having data already recorded in our databases thanks to Cerner,” explains Alexandra Tarazi, Executive Director of Health Information and Communication Technology at PHCC. Virtual consultations, a medication delivery service via WhatsApp, and drive-through testing facilities were set up “at the speed of light” she says. “What usually takes months was delivered within weeks, and that’s thanks to our partners, who sat down with us to design the services and find optimal solutions.”
Adrian Dey, General Manager for Cerner Qatar, explains that much of their early work had been establishing a common centralized EHR across the public health system in Qatar. “Since 2011 along with HMC and PHCC we’ve rolled out a single EHR across 80 percent of healthcare within Qatar,” he says. “We’ve helped integrate care across 13 hospitals and 27 primary healthcare institutions. As we continue our journey together, our attention has shifted, to drive how our systems are used by the clinical community in a more optimal manner to create the best outcomes for the individual as well as those institutions.”
“There’s a common understanding now that individuals no longer receive their health services and care from one institution within the community in which they live,” Dey says. “I think we will start to see a prevalence of consumerism, where individuals as consumers of health and care are going to be more informed to make better personal decisions based on performance, convenience and access. To facilitate that, you’ve really got to open things up, and Cerner is at the forefront of pushing for open standards and sharing data across all platforms, giving access to that data to clinician, patients, researcher and developers.”
This is illustrated in part by the rise in health apps for both the provider and for the consumer, as people take greater control over their health and care. In turn, this is creating a wealth of additional data to make more informed decisions. “We are seeing additional data points – whether that’s through wearables or devices at home, or social determinants of health – that are now forming a valuable factor within someone’s personal health record,” Dey says.