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My Take on EHR in Dubai and the Middle East

Posted on September 2, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Yesterday I wrapped up a 2 day EHR workshop I taught in Dubai as part of the start of my Fall Healthcare IT conference season. This is the second time I’ve taught the EHR workshop in the middle east and it’s always a great experience for me to learn more about EHR in the middle east. This time we had attendees from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and a few regions of United Arab Emirates (UAE) including Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Plus, this time I was lucky to have the support of Nanette from The Breakaway Group as sponsor for the workshop. It’s always great when a sponsor of a workshop adds to the quality of the workshop for attendees. The Breakaway Group definitely did that for us.
ACS and The Breakaway Group at EHR Workshop in Dubai
As I think back on the experience, the message that resonates with me most is something Nanette said in the final roundtable discussion part of the workshop. She commented that all of the challenges that attendees were sharing were the same challenges that we face in the US when it comes to EHR and healthcare IT. She commented that she’d already heard all the same challenges before. So, it’s at least nice to know that people around the world are dealing with many of the same challenges.

A simple example of this was one lady in the workshop talked about the ego of many doctors and how that was an enormous challenge for her when it came to implementing the EHR. Those of us in the US can no doubt relate to this challenge. So, we talked in the EHR workshop about how you can use a physician’s ego to your benefit in an EHR implementation. That’s a powerful concept that applies world wide.

So, I certainly echo Nanette’s comments that even though we’re literally half way around the world in Dubai, the challenges associated with implementing and adopting EHR software are largely the same. No doubt there are some different dynamics associated with who pays for the EHR and the benefits gleaned from the EHR here in the Middle East, but the EHR selection and implementation challenges are very much the same.

One other thing I found interesting in this EHR workshop was the diversity of people that attended. We had a number of gentlemen from India who were working on EHR implementations in the UAE. We had a man from Austria that was working on a long term care EHR implementation. We had a gentleman and lady originally from Iraq and Syria that were working on EHR implementations in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Dubai is certainly a melting pot of so many different cultures and that was reflected in this EHR workshop.

If you follow @ehrandhit on Twitter, then you might have seen my Periscopes from the EHR workshop in Dubai. I was a bit surprised how willing they were to hop on Periscope. They loved the experience and were happy to share their culture with the world. I look forward to the opportunity to come back again.

EHR Charting in Another Language

Posted on January 13, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently started to think about some of the implications associated with multiple languages in an EHR. One of my readers asked me how EHR vendors correlated data from those charting in Spanish and those charting in English. My first response to this question was, “How many doctors chart in Spanish?” Yes, this was a very US centric response since obviously I know that almost all of the doctors in Latin America and other Spanish speaking countries chart in Spanish, but I wonder how many doctors in the US chart in Spanish. I expect the answer is A LOT more than I realize.

Partial evidence of this is that about a year ago HIMSS announced a Latino Health IT Initiative. From that today there is now a HIMSS Latino Community web page and also a HIMSS Latino Community Workshop at the HIMSS Annual Conference in Las Vegas. I’m going to have to find some time to try and learn more about the HIMSS Latino Community. My Espanol is terrible, but I know enough that I think I could enjoy the event.

After my initial reaction, I then started wondering how you would correlate data from another language. So, much for coordinated care. I wonder what a doctor does if he asks for his patient’s record and it is all in Spanish. That’s great if all of your doctors know Spanish, but in the US at least I don’t know of any community that has doctors who know Spanish in every specialty. How do they get around it? I don’t think those translation services you can call are much help.

Once we start talking about automated patient records the language issue becomes more of a problem. Although, maybe part of that problem is solved if you use could standards like ICD-10, SNOMED, etc. A code is a code is a code regardless of what language it is and computers are great at matching up those codes. Although, if these standards are not used, then forget trying to connect the data even through Natural Language Processing (NLP). Sure the NLP could be bi-lingual, but has anyone done that? My guess is not.

All of this might start to really matter more when we’re talking about public health issues as we aggregate data internationally. Language becomes a much larger issue in this context and so it begs for an established set of standards for easy comparison.

I’d be interested to hear about other stories and experiences with EHR charting in Spanish or another language. I bet the open source EHR have some interesting solutions similar to the open source projects I know well. I look forward to learning more about the challenge of multiple languages.