Complex Made Simple

Paperless hospitals in GCC a reality for next year

PA Consulting Group devises 5-point strategy to avoid pitfalls in digital transformation

One of the GCC’s foremost experts in healthcare technology says paperless hospitals could become a reality in the region as early as next year, with the UAE leading the way.

Offering better quality and safety measures, hospitals which go fully paperless reduce errors, increase efficiency, improve practices and enjoy long-term cost savings.

Joe Hawayek, a digital business expert at PA Consulting Group, said Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is among the first in the GCC which is committed to being paperless and keeping patients’ medical records digitally.

Hawayek also singles out Sidra Medical and Research Centre in Doha, Qatar for its commitment to paperless operations, and while he sees a GCC breakthrough as possible in 2016, a major effort is needed to make this happen.

“The eradication of paper medical records, the use of electronic data entry and retrieval of patient information in all care settings, specialisms and non-clinical areas is achievable by next year, especially in new healthcare systems such as those in the UAE and Qatar,” said Hawayek.

“But a truly paperless hospital will require changes across all levels, not just in technology terms, but in addressing every facet of how people work, and a huge amount of work is still to be undertaken,” he added.

Hawayek and other experts at PA Consulting Group have now devised the following five-point strategy to help hospitals identify and avoid potential pitfalls when going paperless:
-Design the digital system around the user and avoid learning complex systems
-Remember: the right digital system is about the supplier and the product
-Standardised processes will become the norm
-Choose implementation partners wisely
-Plan at least two steps ahead

PA Consulting Group, which has been operating in the Gulf region for the last 30 years, says the biggest challenges within the wider Middle East region lie in the well-established, older and more traditional hospitals, where transferring patient data from paper to digital is time consuming and costly.

Hawayek said: “There are typical risks associated with adopting any new model of information and communications. But what is not in question is the immense benefit to healthcare professionals and patients in achieving an electronic transformation to digital platforms.”

PA Consulting Group has successfully delivered more than 150 projects in 13 Middle Eastern countries, across sectors including healthcare, financial services, transport, energy, government, defence and security, education and manufacturing.