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Monitor, track, prevent: A holistic approach to the COVID-19 pandemic

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

by Cerner Corporation

Published on 5/21/2020

Like other health systems around the world, when reports of COVID-19 appeared, leaders at the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), a government entity with multiple sites and more than 2,000 beds that provides complete health care coverage to citizens across the United Arab Emirates (UAE), knew they needed a holistic approach to keeping their population as safe as possible.

“In January, we already knew the virus’s deadly potential, and we needed to act quickly,” said Mohammed Al Olama, MD, MOHAP Undersecretary. “We had to step up our game from other pandemics. Thankfully, we came up with a plan that we think helped reduce the number of cases in the UAE.”

Preventive strategy

MoHAP and Cerner ITWorksSM associates worked together on a proactive program to help reduce the virus’s spread.

“We couldn’t afford to have a piecemeal approach. We needed to bring everyone on board to a single strategy,” said Yousif Alserkal, MD, General Manager of Emirates Health Services Establishment.

The preventive plan included monitoring borders and flights along with minimizing contact with those who came near others who tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, MoHAP tracked patients and launched a tool to help clinicians enhance the screening process. Patients who tested positive but did not require a hospital stay were quarantined at home to ensure they didn’t spread the disease.

“We granted remote access to employees, which helped during the screening process,” said Mubaraka Ibrahim, IT Director of MoHAP. “This allowed remote testing, as opposed to making sure all patients had to come in to get tested. This gave us a quick turnaround in getting as many people tested as possible and helped reduce the spread.”

Tracking patients as part of a strategic response

MoHAP extended its strategy by creating a patient registry to track and observe patients after they received a COVID-19 test.

“Once the patient was registered, we were able to monitor them, whether they tested negative or positive,” said Kalthoom Albulooshi, MD, MoHAP Hospital Department. “We have someone follow up with that patient to make sure they take all necessary precautions if they test positive.”

MoHAP created custom preventive medicine MPages® to assist patient tracking and create a patient register. This allowed clinicians to track patients’ status across different locations. They also created custom MPages across other workflows, including primary care, quarantine and e-visits. As the pandemic worsened, MoHAP implemented the new workflows as quickly as possible.

“It has been about three weeks of go-lives,” said Ali Alajme, MoHAP Health Information System Director. “We’re launching several new elements each week. We’ve been busy, but I’m proud to see how people rose to the task of quickly implementing the MPages.”

The new workflows help providers use the correct worklist and documentation at 21 field hospitals. With only a small team of nurses looking after hundreds of patients in some facilities, these workflows play a large role in making sure all patients receive proper care. MoHAP also has a surge facility with only isolation and critical care beds. A new workflow helps clinicians decide when to move patients between critical care and isolation.

“It’s important to know whether the patient had a positive test only a few days ago or two weeks ago,” said Awadh Alketbi, MoHAP Assistant Undersecretary of Shared Services. “That information helps our clinicians determine the next best steps for care.”

Tracking the virus with dashboards

To help coordinate the response, MoHAP developed three executive dashboards to provide a comprehensive view of the pandemic. Utilizing PowerInsight® and third-party solution SAS Viya, the dashboards provide MoHAP’s leaders with a single source of information for all the near real-time data and analytics they need.

One dashboard tracks the COVID-19 outbreak globally, another across the UAE and the third helps MoHAP improve collaboration and communication around data-driven decisions.

An additional, non-executive dashboard tracks isolation beds. “We’ve repurposed several facilities to handle the surge,” said Ali Juma Alajme, MoHAP Health Information System Director. “The dashboard gives us an overview of the current bed availability across all our facilities and the occupancy of the permanent and temporary isolation beds.”

Together, these tools help the organization deal with one of the worst public health crises in decades.

“This is a crisis the world has not dealt with in quite some time,” said Hussain Alrand, MD, Assistant Undersecretary of Clinics and Primary Health Centers. “But using the tools we developed, I’m confident we’re making a real difference in preventing the spread and helping patients recover.”