Malaffi adds radiology images as part of the centralised patient records in Abu Dhabi

By Dr Sanji de Sylva, VP of Clinical Engagement and Informatics
2 February 2023

Multiple countries across the globe have built Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) to centralise and mobilise patient records and drive better quality of care and improved patient outcomes. Enshrined by World Health Organisation’s eHealth Resolution[i] “to foster exchange of data and information for the promotion of health, health systems and training of healthcare workers,” countries see HIEs as an important tool to strengthen patient services and experiences to improve care and evolve in line with the strong healthcare trends towards preventive and value-based care.

In the Middle East, The Department of Health - Abu Dhabi (DOH) is leading the charge, having commissioned the Abu Dhabi Health Information Exchange Platform, Malaffi, in 2018 and empowering Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) to make well-informed decisions using available patient data from all previous appointments, regardless of the facility.

The challenges of sharing radiology images outside of one organisation

As diagnostics play a critical role in patients’ journeys, radiology images become essential to holistic electronic medical records (EMR). The burden of retrieving radiology and diagnostic images from disparate systems for patients and healthcare providers is significant. Not having easy access to images from previous appointments with different providers may lead to duplication and overutilisation or diagnostic services, delays in treatment, poor treatment outcomes, and a poor experience for clinicians and patients.

Nevertheless, sharing radiology images across different healthcare organisations is challenging due to the large file size and interoperability issues. Only select HIEs globally have implemented an image exchange solution within the providers’ portal.

Malaffi introduces an Image Exchange Solution

Malaffi’s recent launch of the Image Exchange Solution now allows healthcare providers across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi using Malaffi to have access to radiology studies. This latest Malaffi enhancement again positions Abu Dhabi at the forefront of using innovative digital health technologies to drive better patient outcomes.

Malaffi’s user survey revealed that 90% of clinicians felt it very important to have access to the historical radiology images for their patients. It is anticipated that those who will benefit the most from such a solution are surgeons, gynaecologists and obstetricians, internal medicine specialists and cancer care teams, and multidisciplinary teams.

Delays in waiting to receive images – such as X-Rays, CT scans, MRIs and ultrasound images, for example - from disparate systems can be frustrating for the care teams and add to stressful situations for patients. Ultimately, in Abu Dhabi, the burden of patients needing to take hard copy scans or CDs of scans to appointments will be eliminated once 60 facilities are connected to Image Exchange, removing the reliance on the patient and for the HCPs to have more timely access to additional clinical information.

The availability of radiology images in patient records ensures that time-poor healthcare providers now gain a holistic view of patients’ records and can review and compare images from different visits and timeframes. Image access reduces the need to duplicate expensive and invasive radiology investigations, which also safeguards patients from unnecessary radiation and reduces time and cost. A recent study found that the duplication of diagnostic images in clinical settings after implementing an image exchange decreased by more than 20%[ii].

Another study found that nearly two-thirds (61%) of radiologists suffer from burnout, up from 36% in 2013 to 49% in 2017[iii]. Reducing the duplication of multiple and sometimes unnecessary scans can help to alleviate this issue.

Likewise, there are many use cases for sharing images across organisations. Consider, for example, a scenario where a patient undergoes a CT scan at a hospital trauma centre and is then transferred to a tertiary hospital. Studies have found considerable duplication of CTs in these cases, in addition to the fact that valuable time is lost when the patient needs to be treated urgently[iv].

Abu Dhabi at the forefront of digital health technology

As healthcare professionals become increasingly time-poor, technology can solve many of the issues they face. According to Persistence Market Research, medical image exchange systems are expected to be adopted globally at a significant pace over the coming years due to the growing adoption of advanced technologies in the healthcare industry[v].

For Malaffi, delivering an image exchange solution was the natural next step to continue adding value for the clinical users, especially given the fragmented healthcare landscape in the emirate and the need to deliver a single, seamless and secure source of important clinical information. Ultimately, following a phased approach, two million radiology images from over 60 healthcare sites across Abu Dhabi will be available through the exchange. The first facilities to join include NMC Healthcare, Reem Hospital, Burjeel Holdings and HealthPoint.

As part of the global HIE community, Malaffi has been recognised for its achievements as one the fastest-implemented platforms globally. Alongside the image exchange, in 2022, Malaffi released several functionalities such as patients’ appointments, risk profile and a Health Portal, cementing its position among the most advanced HIEs. The organisation continues its journey with a commitment to seek new solutions to improve the quality of healthcare and enhance HCPs’ ability to deliver this in Abu Dhabi.

And now, as the world embraces the emerging healthcare trends moving from sick care to preventive care and the ultimate target of practicing value-based care, HIE innovations in sharing health data will be a crucial component for enabling the future of healthcare. Being able to combine diagnostic images with other clinical data and biomarkers for patients, creates a platform and foundation for AI-enabled tools (which combine clinical and imaging data) to be implemented to drive more targeted and personalised care

[i] Global Observatory for Health

[ii] Hidden Costs of Duplicate Patient Records

[iii] Addressing Burnout in Radiologists

[iv] Impact of duplicate CT scan rate after implementation of transfer image repository system at a level 1 trauma center

[v] Medical Image Exchange Systems Market Outlook (2022 – 2032)

This article was also published on Omnia Health and can be found here.


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