Malaffi’s CEO Anniversary Reflections

I’m incredibly proud of how far, and how fast, we have come on our journey at Malaffi. In just three years since the launch on January 23rd, 2019, we have built, from the ground up, what is now the region’s foremost Health Information Exchange (HIE) platform.

From the outset, our mission has been to enable the access and exchange of important patient health information securely and in real-time to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare. The ability to make this data available to healthcare professionals at the point of care has been transformative both for patient outcomes and experience.

In only three years, we have established and operationalised the first HIE in the Middle East and North Africa, setting a regional blueprint in how improved use of health data can improve the quality of healthcare. Within the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Malaffi has changed the way healthcare is delivered by improving coordination of care, increasing efficiencies and patient safety.

Ambitious approach

Our approach was nothing if not ambitious, with a mandate to connect more than 2,000 public and private healthcare facilities in under three years. Malaffi is a complex platform and a complex project which required us to work very closely with the Abu Dhabi healthcare community. There were certainly moments where we needed to navigate challenges related to IT systems maturity, interoperability and data quality. But we had a clear plan and our iterative process–setting limited requirements for providers to connect and increasing them over time–enabled us to connect the facilities very quickly. The first go-live, six months after the platform launch, was a clear sign that we are on the right track. Feedback from clinicians started coming in, recognising how Malaffi was helping them to improve patient care. This not only fuelled our enthusiasm but offered welcome encouragement for the providers, who often needed to go above and beyond to deliver against our technical requirements. Each go-live was a little team celebration of our joint ground-breaking efforts. Our successes in these regards are owed deeply to the support of the DOH and the trust placed in Malaffi by the healthcare provider community.

A push by the COVID-19 pandemic

Yet, despite our progress, one of our biggest challenges remained: how to ensure that people understand the value of this novel system to the healthcare system and to society? I believe the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020 was the moment in which the benefits of Malaffi became truly apparent to stakeholders outside our immediate environment. Malaffi’s established central database of patient information—which we quickly updated to include all COVID test results, and later vaccine records—meant that we were able to provide the regulator with a comprehensive view of how the pandemic was affecting the Emirate. This accurate, detailed and real-time information from Malaffi, was instrumental in Abu Dhabi’s successful data-led response strategy, and rapidly made the concept of an HIE much more tangible.

What we have achieved together

The pandemic triggered a paradigm shift in healthcare, with broader global recognition of the benefits connected healthcare brings, from healthcare delivery to public health management. Today, Malaffi has collated 660 million unique clinical records of medical information, from patient visits and lab results to radiology reports, vital signs, medications and more. Over 45,000 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other members of staff from the 1,919 healthcare facilities across Abu Dhabi have secure access to Malaffi and are empowered to make better-informed, safer, and more efficient decisions.

As a testament to our achievement, Malaffi has been the recipient of several awards, including accreditation by the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) for the Health Information Exchange Accreditation Program (HIEAP). As the first HIE outside of the US to receive this accolade, recognising excellence in data privacy and security best practices, we are extremely proud on behalf of the healthcare community in Abu Dhabi.

The next chapter

Looking to the years ahead, we enter a new phase for Malaffi, with a roadmap guided by the strategic priorities of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi. While we are working to provide patients in Abu Dhabi with access to their medical records in Malaffi, we continue to meet the expectations of our providers to improve the platform to benefit the individual patient. We have also started to explore how the collated robust population health data can play a greater role in improving our capabilities to make data-driven decisions in areas such as disease risk management, preparedness, prevention and healthcare quality. Malaffi now serves as a blueprint for countries across the MENA region with similar health challenges and infrastructure, and I take great pride that through our active engagement with the HIE community, our learnings and successes will help inform digital health strategies elsewhere.

The openness to embracing and executing new ideas—from the Department of Health and the healthcare providers in Abu Dhabi—has been instrumental in taking Malaffi from a strategic plan to a fully established HIE in just three years. Our success is a success of each and every partner we have worked with, whose unwavering support has enabled Malaffi to become a central component of the digital transformation of the healthcare system in Abu Dhabi.

I am grateful to everyone who has been a part of Malaffi’s story so far, and I am excited for the next stage in our journey together.

Atif Al Braiki

Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Health Data Services

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