|View at the bustling Dubai Creek|
OTech will deliver its 5th Middle East seminar in Dubai as Middle Eastern countries are making major investments in healthcare imaging and IT. Wisely, in many cases, it pays off to NOT be on the bleeding edge and instead implement what is proven and seems to work, albeit with adaptations for local workflows and practices. This is what is happening in the Middle East as healthcare institutions are rolling out PACS and EMR implementations that are based on mature versions of software and hardware that are in many cases provided by the same manufacturers as the systems being used for many years in the US and western European countries. There are also local companies that have sprung up and provide Teleradiology applications, which is an important segment of the market. In addition, the open source Vista EMR as developed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs is also being installed and used in several countries, notably Egypt and Jordan.
However, there are still quite a few local challenges, the top three I have noticed are the following:
· There is a lack of universal policies and procedures governing who is supporting who, what and when. The role of PACS administrators is not as widely accepted and therefore, many PACS and EMR support duties are provided “ad-hoc” or fall in between the cracks.
· IT infrastructure and support is lacking, as many institutions do not have proper personnel and systems in place. Point in case is that one of our seminar attendees told me that her number one issue is the ever present threat of viruses and other malware infecting their system.
· Last but not least, the universal lack of training and learning resources. It is not as easy for someone to travel to western Europe and/or the USA to take classes on the subject or even attend trade shows.