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Emergence of video consultations, e-records shows rise of telehealth in Kingdom

By JT - Jan 28,2020 - Last updated at Jan 28,2020

AMMAN — The use of technology in various fields, especially in the field of healthcare, “greatly contributes” to accessing and updating information efficiently, thereby promoting the delivery of health and other services to citizens, said Secretary-General of the Higher Population Council (HPC) and President of the Arab Council for Population and Development Abla Amawi. 

Amawi was speaking on Sunday at a world conference on “telehealth” held in Dubai, according to an HPC statement.

The aim of the conference, which was organised by the International Society for Telehealth and Electronic Health and attended by representatives from a group of countries worldwide and a number of international experts, was to establish a platform for the exchange of telehealth field experiences, best practices among stakeholders and modes of utilising telehealth care, the statement noted.

The conference also discussed the challenges and benefits of applying this methodology in the region. 

During a presentation titled “Healthcare in Jordan: Challenges and opportunities”, Amawi pointed out that Jordan’s health sector “needs to provide fair access” to high-quality healthcare services and control the rising costs these services. 

Among the measures that can be implemented to address this need is the improved use of existing resources such as professional staff, health care institutions and available equipment, the HPC secretary-general noted.

In the field of implementing telehealth programmes in Jordan, Amawi noted that the fifth objective of the Ministry of Health’s 2018-2022 strategic plan deals with “increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of digital transformation and technology-based knowledge management”, according to the statement.

The ministry is developing electronic infrastructure through digitalisation projects, the most important of these being the computerisation of health centres and hospitals and the development of the Ministry of Health’s electronic services, she said.

Amawi pointed out that one of the most prominent applications of telehealth in Jordan is seen in a project conducted by the Ministry of Health and Cisco, which provided systems that enable the safe transmission of information and video consultations. 

The project is one of the key components of Jordan’s telehealth project, which was launched in 2011 and uses high-resolution video and audio technology to connect specialists in Amman with patients in remote areas, giving patients access to medical consultations, she said. 

Another prominent application of telehealth in Jordan is the “Hakim” programme, launched in 2009, which is considered the first national initiative to automate the health sector in Jordan, Amawi noted.

The programme aims to facilitate efficient, high-quality healthcare delivery through utilising telehealth to allow physicians, pharmacists, medical technologists and other clinicians to electronically access medical records of patients, she said. 

A mobile phone application designed by the Family Health Institute focuses on customers, as community health workers use the application to enhance customer awareness about good health services and health risks. The application, Amawi noted, also records feedback on client satisfaction with provided services and facilitates access to information.

The secretary-general stated that the most important benefits of telehealth are that it expands patient access to healthcare services, improves medical workflow, increases the efficiency of practices, reduces public expenditures in the field of healthcare and improves the quality of services, according to the statement.

She mentioned the challenges facing the application of telehealth in Jordan, the most prominent of which are low financing, the lack of technological infrastructure, the need to enhance the efficiency of medical cadres in the field of telehealth application and the lack of legislation and laws supporting telehealth in Jordan, among others.

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