Unifying e-health records between public and private hospitals is underway as part of efforts to facilitate co-operation between the two sectors, it was confirmed yesterday at a major health forum.Speaking at the C3 Bahrain ‘Davos of Healthcare’ summit, Health Ministry assistant under-secretary of public health Dr Samia Ali Bahram stated that efforts are underway to enhance co-ordination as the country lays out contingency plans in case of a another pandemic.The session, titled ‘A New Paradigm Shift for Health and Healthcare in Bahrain’, was moderated by American Mission Hospital corporate chief executive and chief medical officer Dr George Cheriyan and included Government Hospitals chief executive Dr Maryam Al Jalahma, Primary Health Centres chief executive Dr Ejlal Al Alawi and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Bahrain president Professor Sameer Otom.“As it stands, patient health records are separate, one for public and one for private,” Dr Bahram said.

“This means when a patient moves from a public hospital to a private one, for example, the new hospital does not have access to their records.“They might request it or they might just start keeping records from scratch, either of which takes time. By unifying the public and private e-health records, if the patient moves, then there is no need to request anything or redo any tests, which not only speeds up treatment but keeps staff updated and enables them to provide quality healthcare.”Dr Bahram believes that the private sector plays a significant role in Bahrain’s healthcare system and facilitating co-operation can provide plenty of opportunities for both sides. “Private hospitals play a great role in research,” she explained.

“They can share their findings with us, and we can use the information to provide better outcomes and services for patients.“In return, we can provide graduate workers, especially Bahrainis, for them to train and develop so that they can become better doctors and nurses.”These enhancements come as Bahrain lays down preparations and contingency plans in case another pandemic breaks out in the future.“Bahrain was successful during the pandemic because of teamwork between government agencies such as the Health Ministry and private institutions,” said Dr Al Jalahma.

“As soon as we heard about the pandemic, preparations were underway and we ensured we were ready.“Our Covid-19 Task Force worked with not just healthcare institutions but also with the Interior Ministry, Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture Ministry and the Industry and Commerce Ministry to achieve the best possible results.“We established a ‘war room’ in co-operation with the private sector, where we collected data and statistics and used them to make informed decisions.”Dr Ejlal Al Alawi added that communication between the two sectors is also being enhanced. “We are ensuring that workers in both sectors are well-trained and ready to go, in case another outbreak happens,” she said. “We’re looking into medical equipment and supplies and constantly checking for any potential problems in the supply chain as well as how to deal with them.“On top of that, surveillance and communication with the general public is also being constantly improved and we are sharing any relevant data, not just within Bahrain, but internationally as well.”Dr Otoom, meanwhile, stressed the importance of ensuring that as part of preparations, graduate medical students learn more than just medical skills. “The role of leadership skills in the industry is understated,” he said. “Yes, the main objective is to treat patients, but to do so, they need traits such as compassion and sympathy.“They also need to be taught proficiency with modern technology. AI will not replace workers but it is important to learn to use it to its maximum potential to get the best possible results.”

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