Empowering Nurses through Interoperability

Jocelyn Leeming | RN | Clinical Adoption and Informatics Specialist
13 September 2023

As the largest group of healthcare professionals, nurses form the backbone of the healthcare system, working as integral members of the multidisciplinary team to provide coordinated care, education, and advocacy for patients. Nurses both create and consume large amounts of patient information. They typically spend more time with patients than other care providers, thus play a vital role in bridging communication between patients and the wider medical team. In a region where care is often fragmented, healthcare technology and interoperability between providers can improve communication between health professionals, enhance the scope of nurses and allow providers to collectively deliver more efficient, effective, and safer care to patients.

Malaffi (Arabic for ‘my file’), is the first Health Information Exchange (HIE) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, that safely and securely connects all public and private healthcare providers in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Established in 2018, as a public-private partnership with the Department of Health- Abu Dhabi, the healthcare regulator in the Emirate, the HIE enables meaningful, real-time exchange of important patient medical information between healthcare providers, creating a centralised database of unique patient records.

As of August 2023, the Malaffi platform in Abu Dhabi connects nearly 2,700 private and public facilities, through 84 different EMRs, and stores over 1.9 billion unique clinical records for over 7 million unique patients. Through common data standards and protocols such as HL7 and FHIR, Malaffi enables connected EMRs to share data including demographics, allergies, laboratory results, diagnosis, procedures, vital signs, clinical documents, diagnostic tests, radiology reports and images and patient appointments.

When Malaffi is embedded in the EMRs of the providers, clinicians can instantly access their patients’ longitudinal file, facilitating the making of better-informed and more efficient clinical decisions. This enhances coordination of care, allows for the reduction of unnecessary duplication of tests and procedures, reduces medical errors and readmissions, which undoubtedly enhances patient safety, experience and outcomes.

“Malaffi allows us to focus on treating our complex paediatric patients, rather than spending time on information gathering,” says a paediatric nurse from Kanad Hospital. “By providing access to the patient’s medical history and recent results, Malaffi helps reduce the number of questions we ask the parents of patients, who are often under stress, while reducing the need to duplicate tests on unwell children.”

Throughout the pandemic, Malaffi was integral in the response and management of Covid-19 patients across Abu Dhabi. This allowed frontline clinicians access to real-time test results and patient medical history, to inform their necessary first response decisions, such as isolation or hospitalisation. An emergency care nurse from Mediclinic Al Noor Hospital, said “Malaffi helped immensely throughout the pandemic. When patients arrived at Emergency having done a PCR at another facility, through Malaffi we were able to find the results and provide fast, efficient, isolated care to Covid-19 positive patients, while maintaining the safety of staff and other patients.”

Real-time access to centralised patient information supports clinicians to improve care coordination and transition of care. “When patients are transferred to our long-term care facility, quite often the patient referral is missing clinical information” said a nurse from NMC Provita. “Through Malaffi we are able to see the patient’s full medical history including current and previous medications, allergy lists and recent test results, allowing us to maintain continuity of care.”

Nurses are transforming the future landscape of healthcare by maximising the benefits of health technology, to ensure that patients receive appropriate, high-quality, and compassionate care. The promise of broad interoperability highlights the importance of implementing the right digital platforms, that respect the changing demands of contemporary nursing. Available to over 22,000 nurses across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Malaffi is accessed by over 30% of nurses monthly, which compares favourably to global averages. As digital health technology continues to advance, we hope to see the scope of nurses continue to expand into roles that embrace the value of interoperability mediums such as Malaffi, to facilitate more informed clinical decisions and the delivery of efficient, high-quality patient care.

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

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