Prominent UAE innovators addressed a group of high-level officials and some members of the public during the ongoing Al Barza Health Innovation Discussion which is taking place daily at the Health Innovation Village at Kite Beach. This is part of the daily activities organised by the DHA to celebrate UAE Innovation Week which will take place until November 28.
HE Humaid Al Qatami, Chairman of the Board and Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority highlighted the direct impact of innovation on improving lives of patients and their family members.
Dr Manal Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare Sector at the DHA, discussed the positive impact of introducing telemedicine for patients with diabetic retinopathy across primary healthcare centres. Other panelists including Reem Al Marzouqi, Dr Mansoor Al Awar and Mishal Al Marzouqi, highlighted that curiosity is the first step on the path to innovation and that it helps tide over the challenges associated with innovation. The session was moderated by Shurooq Al Banna.
Telemedicine for patients with diabetic retinopathy:
Dr Taryam highlighted the success of the telemedicine initiative for patients with diabetic retinopathy which was introduced across PHCs in October 2014.
“Since the initiative of this project, diabetics who visit the DHA facilities no longer have to go to an ophthalmologist for their annual eye check-ups. All diabetic clinics at DHA primary healthcare centres are fitted with digital retinal cameras. Patients get their retinal check-up at the centre during their regular follow-up appointment and the films are sent electronically to the ophthalmology department at Dubai Hospital.
“Ophthalmologists then examine the patient file, blood reports and correlate this with the captured images. Basic treatment plans are prescribed based on the reports and only those patients who need further investigation visit the ophthalmologists at the hospital.”
Dr Taryam added that this has multiple advantages. “Through telemedicine we can detect diabetic retinopathy early on. It is cost effective because healthcare settings do not need to employ ophthalmologists across every health centre. The images can be taken by a diabetic nurse.”
She highlighted how innovative thinking has helped directly contributed to early and regular eye screening for diabetics, leading to early diagnosis with the added benefit of convenience.
Dr. Mansoor Al-Awar, Chancellor of Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University (HBMeU) as well as Honorary Visiting Fellow in Organization and Information Management at the University of Bradford, UK; Adjunct Professor at the University of Salford, UK; member of the International Academy for Quality (IAQ); and Certified International Assessor for the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Awards, highlighted the role of educational institutes in promoting and supporting innovation.
Robot for children with autism:
Reem Al Marzouqi, a 25 year old Emirati engineer and the first citizen of the UAE to be granted a patent in the United States of America for designing a car that can be driven without hands for people, highlighted her latest innovation.
She has a total of four innovations under her name so far, of these, she discussed Mozo, a fluffy soft toy teddy which is actually a learning robot for kids with autism.
Al Mazrouqi said: “I came across an incident where an autistic child was having trouble making conversations and that’s when I thought there has to be a solution. I was curious to find a way to improve communication skills of autistic children and that how Mozo was developed. Mozo, is an Emirati robot that is very appealing to kids because it’s essentially a huge teddy bear that has the ability to hug children and speak to them. It works using a simple mobile friendly app and therapists can create a separate profile for every child and design individualized treatment plans. Parents can also use Mozo at home. Therapists and parents do not need to be in the same room as the robot’s eyes have cameras so they can monitor progress of the child from far away. This gives the child an opportunity to directly communicate with his cute teddy friend. So far clinical trials using Mozo have proved that it does help improve communication skills of children with autism.”
The DHA will continue to host the Al Barza Discussion daiy from the Health Innovation Village which is located at Kite Beach. Members of the public can visit the Village and avail of free health screenings and nutritional advice.