Thought leaders and experts in healthcare digitisation from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and beyond gathered during the 2022 HIMSS Middle East Health Conference & Exhibition for three days of world-class education and programming. Held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 19 to 21 November, the event concluded with a promising proposed roadmap to reimagine the future of healthcare.
In her closing remarks relating to conference recommendations, Dr. Taghreed Justinia, Regional Director for IT Services, Technology and Health Informatics at the King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, as well as a HIMSS Future 50 Healthcare IT Leader and HIMSS Blockchain Taskforce Member, outlined to the audience a series of recommendations under five themes.
TEN CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATIONS
Under the first theme “Digital Health: Transformation in Action”, Dr. Justinia reiterated the importance of long-term strategy and investment, stating: “Under the first theme, [HIMSS22 Midde East’s] first recommendation [is to] design digital transformation strategies in which governance is seen as a continuous and iterative process [that is] built into services and workflows from the start and throughout.
“Next, we [also] recommend enhancing the capabilities and abilities necessary for data privacy, security, and resilience through long-term investment and infrastructure, [as well as] software, technology, and human capital.”
With the second theme covering “Integration Through Data and Technology”, Dr. Justinia explained that HIMSS22 Middle East’s recommendation roadmap was to “develop national and regional policies to govern the use of health data, assuring privacy and protection, with the focus on safer care when integrating health services.”
She continued: “We [also] recommend building robust IT systems that can provide accountable and sustainable care by integrating data between multiple stakeholders across regional and national platforms.”
DATA-DRIVEN APPROACH TO SERVICE DELIVERY
Under the third theme of “Digital Health: Impacts and Benefits,” Dr. Justinia stated that HIMSS22 Middle East recommended the region create “country-wide registries with coded, structured data and data standards, to identify patients and to manage disease.
“We also recommend leveraging artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to enable [a] more preventative data-driven approach to service delivery, supporting citizens to stay well for longer,” she said.
For the fourth theme, “Innovating Person-centred Care”, the first recommendation shared was to “apply a holistic socio-technical approach to precision and personalised medicine, driven by artificial intelligence and drug discovery.”
Dr. Justinia added: “We also recommend introducing legislative frameworks using appropriate national mechanisms to regulate data usage and to protect creative patient privacy.”
“Global Health Issues: The Big Picture” formed the fifth and final theme of HIMSS22 in Riyadh, with the first recommendation being the development of a “standard framework to collect social determinants of health for the Middle East population, to support health equity, clinical care, population health, and research.”
Dr. Justinia concluded by saying: “We also recommend recruiting, training, and sustaining a digital health workforce and leadership through continuous, professional development, and rewarding career paths. We truly hope that all of these recommendations come to fruition in the Middle East.”
In his closing remarks, Prof. Amr Jamal, consultant, family physician and clinical informatician, plus chairman of the Family and Community Medicine Department at King Saud University, paid tribute to the HIMSS22 Middle East scientific and organising committees that helped shape the conference and exhibition.
Comprising the scientific committee are: Dr. Justinia, Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Balkhair of the Saudi Ministry of Health, Dr. Tamara Sunbul of John Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, Dr. Dari Alhuwail from the College of Life Sciences at Kuwait University, Dr. Osama El Hassan of the Dubai Health Authority, Eng Fahad Al-Hussein at Megamind IT Solutions, Mohammed Alhajjy at King Saud University Medical City, Dr. Rania Mohell at Ain Shams University, Dr. Mohammed Aldhoayan at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Prof. Mowafa Househ of Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Lisa Thomlinson at HIMSS in the United Kingdom, Dr. Nasser Aljehani at the Council of Health Insurance, Sara Mohammed Aloudah of the Saudi Health Council, Dr. Hassan Ghazal at the National Center for Scientific and Technological Research, Dr. Najeeb Al-Shorbaji of the Middle East and North Africa Association of Health Informatics, and of course, Prof. Jamal.
Making up the organising committee are: Waleed Albahli, Faiz AlRasheedi, Ahood Alshahrani, and Areej Al-Shehri of the National Health Information Center, plus the Saudi Health Council’s Aloudah, Prof. Jamal, and Dr. Balkhair.
The 2022 HIMSS Middle East Health Conference & Exhibition was held under the patronage of His Excellency Eng. Fahad Al-Jalajel, Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and in joint collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Saudi Health Council, the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, and the National Health Information Center.