DOCTOR’S ORDERS: DIGITIZATION

Oman 2018 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | FOCUS: HEALTH DIGITIZATION

Oman, determined to be in the vanguard of new developments in the health sector, is prioritizing synergies between health and technology in its national Health Vision 2050.

Across the world, radical new technologies are changing the face of the healthcare industry. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and wearables are just some of the latest innovations that are transforming the way in which medical care is researched, administered, and delivered, both in cities and in rural areas. In Oman, the government is keen to stress the importance that e-medical solutions can have for the Health Vision 2050 moving forward. Just short of 200 pages, the document outlining the vision, released in 2014, underscores the Sultanate's ambitions to become a self-sustainable provider of healthcare across all fields by the year 2050. To highlight the importance of digitizing healthcare provision, the government has announced, as part of the Health Vision, the necessary formulation of a separate national e-health strategy, jointly launched by the Ministry of Health and its secondary departments alongside the Information Technology Authority. In 2015, Oman made its first moves toward implementing e-health when it announced that all files belonging to government hospitals and healthcare facilities in the Sultanate would be linked to a centralized system. This has drastically increased efficiency in the management of medical records, facilitating healthcare administration on all levels.

Following on from that, in January 2017 the Ministry of Health launched a cashless transaction system. Now, cards are accepted at all hospitals and clinics that come under the umbrella of the government's health network. While there is no deadline to move to a completely cash-free system, and the government is aware that for many citizens a cashless culture is a far cry from their current reality, the onus is on implementing a smart system that ties in a wider e-governance strategy. Even more recently, a series of health seminars organized by Ithraa, Oman's investment promotion and export development agency, gathered together healthcare professionals with a special interest in the rapid uptake of digital solutions for a plethora of uses to discuss how best to tap into this trend. The aptly named series, “Healthcare: are we fit for the future?” outlined how technology will become an increasingly integral element of healthcare provision over the next few years, and suggested ways in which Omani health providers and tech companies might collaborate.