In a bid to develop health services in Qatar, PwC, the world’s leading professional services firm, and Pinsent Masons, international law firm, jointly organised a roundtable seminar chaired by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Doha on 11th October to discuss E-Health initiatives. Contribution from officials, leaders and stakeholders of different sectors including government, hospitals, IT and telecommunications were represented during the roundtable.
Titled “Opportunities for extending the boundaries of Care”, the roundtable was chaired by Dr. Najeeb Al Shorbaji, Director – Knowledge Management, WHO, who provided independent views on key developments and outcomes of E-health initiatives across international economies.
Representatives from PwC and Pinsent Masons stressed the importance of alignment and collaboration across the sector for successful implementation of such initiatives. Both agreed that E-health offers great opportunities and continues to be a very important area for delivering efficient and quality health services, such as increasing public health awareness and prevention of illness and disease.
“Countries such as US, Canada, UK and Australia are investing significantly in E-Health as part of their healthcare strategies. E-Health schemes are introduced and very well suited and important to Qatar and GCC countries,” said Dr. Al Shorbaji. “The strategic introduction of E-Health initiatives in Qatar can be a key driver in helping realise Qatar’s 2030 Vision and the objectives of Qatar National Health Strategy 2011-2016.”
PwC launched its latest thought leadership article titled “Emerging E-Health: Paths for Growth” during the session. The study indicates that patients in emerging markets have greater expectations for the impact of E-Health compared to patients in developed markets. The study also revealed that emerging markets have been more responsive than developed markets in funding E-Health encounters and provisions.
“If E-Health is fundamentally about connecting patients, providers, payors, solution companies, telecoms and regulators with data, that connection can be accelerated by connecting those parties at the start of the journey,” said Ryder Smith, PwC Health Industries Partner – Qatar. “With E-Health establishment representing Initiative 2.4 of the Qatar National Health Strategy 2011-2016, the time to start making those connections is clearly upon all concerned”.
The roundtable discussion touched upon E-programmes and services, research and hospital initiatives, the level of and justification for investment in E-Health, increasing use of technology to access global and remote services, the role of the private sector, education and awareness campaigns, regulation and the scope for practitioner input as well as opportunities and challenges in the development of international standards, norms and legal frameworks in critical areas such as health data ownership, transfer and security The meeting also noted the value of a national E-health strategy and standardisation and interoperability as key criteria for deployment of E-health systems.
Barry Francis, head of Healthcare at Pinsent Masons commented, “As well as bringing technical and financial benefits, E–health will encourage new partnering arrangements between healthcare providers and create new opportunities for healthcare providers, technology companies and other disciplines to work together.”
Husein Reka, Manager, Health Financing and Insurance Department at the Supreme Council of Health in Qatar added ““E-health will be a strategic alignment tool for the forthcoming Social Health Insurance Scheme which will enable a successful interface of the Scheme with the rest of the healthcare sector. This project will cause a major change in the funding of providers and the health sector in general, hence e-health will be of tremendous help.”
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