All of Abu Dhabi’s hospitals connect to health information exchange Malaffi

28 November 2021

Abu Dhabi’s first Health Information Exchange (HIE) platform, Malaffi, has announced that all public and private hospitals in the Emirate are now connected to the platform. It enables 39,600 doctors, nurses, and other staff members located across 1,539 healthcare facilities to safely and securely access patient information in real-time, captured from 98% patient episodes. This not only results in an enhanced coordination and transition of care but also improves healthcare outcomes and the efficiency of healthcare delivery. Dr Hamed Ali Al-Hashemi, Advisor to the Chairman of Department of Health (DOH), comments: “Malaffi is one of the most prominent and innovative programs launched by Abu Dhabi to advance the healthcare sector as it continues to adopt digital technology and achieves the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness.”

Malaffi – key for the digital transformation of healthcare in Abu Dhabi

Malaffi, Arabic for “my file”, is a strategic initiative of the Department of Health (DOH), the healthcare regulator in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. “Set up to create a centralized database of unified patient records of the approximately 3 million inhabitants of Abu-Dhabi, Malaffi is the backbone of the digital transformation of its healthcare system. With the universal participation of healthcare facilities and patients across the Emirate, its purpose is to document each medical interaction in a patient’s record. This data repository constitutes the basis for making better informed clinical decisions and saves time and resources. Clinicians and members of the care teams can instantly access patient information, which cuts the time to diagnosis and treatment and reduces the incidents of duplicating tests and diagnostic procedures. The original scope of Malaffi included demographic data, appointment information, laboratory results, radiology reports, allergies, diagnoses, procedures, surgeries, and medication. The platform was expanded to collect clinical documents, vital signs, and vaccination records based on users’ feedback. Currently, the platform connects more than 90 percent of all laboratory reports and more than 70 percent of all prescribed medication from the applicable contributing facilities. Soon, radiology images will also be available through the platform.

A short implementation timeline

The platform was launched in January 2019. At the time, six healthcare organizations agreed to collaborate on the platform, with the first providers being connected in July 2019. In September 2020, 60 per cent of the region’s hospitals had already joined the platform, reaching the 100 percent mark in October 2021. Dr Charles Alessi, Chief Clinical Officer at HIMSS International, compliments Malaffi on the swift implementation: “I am delighted to be revisiting Malaffi. With the Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health, they have managed to deploy an interoperable platform faster than many of their peers. This puts them in a very good position to be able to start to reap the benefits of interoperability in terms of outcomes, which I have every confidence they are starting to enjoy.”

Malaffi delivers value

A survey among users of the Malaffi platform highlights its benefits and Atif Al Braiki, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Health Data Services, the operator of Malaffi, summarizes the survey findings: “fewer duplicated investigations, reduced allergic reactions, faster diagnosis, fewer medication duplications and errors, along with general efficiency improvements.”

Independent analyst company KLAS published a profile on Malaffi in early 2021, for which it conducted selected interviews with users to evaluate their experience with the platform. KLAS concluded: “Organizations feel the data they have access to provides value. Some organizations have yet to resolve integration issues that have been challenging; they are optimistic about the future and hopeful for continued feature development.” The report also states that 22 percent of users noted immediate outcomes and 34 percent reported outcomes within six months.

During the pandemic, Malaffi also demonstrated its effectiveness as a tool for population health management. It has helped tracking and managing COVID-19 outbreaks in addition to orchestrating the emirate’s vaccination efforts. Braiki recalls: “Malaffi quickly connected all facilities that were providing frontline care to COVID-19 patients, creating a centralized database of test results in the emirate. Visibility on positive cases ensured swift action from frontline teams to protect the patients, medical staff, and others. Malaffi currently stores more than 63M PCR tests and around 10M COVID-19 vaccine records. “

The future: Generating more insights for better health

Moving forward, Malaffi will collect more data by expanding the coverage of participating organizations as well as the data collected. This data repository will be the base to derive deeper insights and changes in the healthcare system. Braiki explains: “This helps us look beyond existing conditions and start making data-based predictions about future health risks and will transform everything from capacity planning to direct communications with patients. We can enhance coordination of care and ultimately move toward a more value-based and preventative system in which doctors and healthcare professionals are incentivized to keep people well.”

This article was published in the HIMSS Insights eBook and can be found here

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