Healthcare Technology Specialist & Communications Manager
1) What are the general challenges, either in approach or available tools (such as facilities, medical equipment, trained staff), when catering to a different abled or an acute care patient?
Each patient requires a unique medical approach for their condition. At Amana Healthcare, we turned this challenge to an opportunity by arranging for multi-disciplinary teams to work closely together to develop customized plans for each individual, helping them regain their independence with maximum recovery through intensive rehabilitation.
In terms of technology, there is no ‘one-fits-all’ device. For example, we use REX Bionics – a self-supporting and self-balancing exoskeleton – which complements our three-to-five-hour daily, customised physiotherapy programmes for our patients. Limitations we face restrict the device for patients of a certain height and weight, and ability to bend the legs. To overcome this challenge, we invest in a variety of technological devices that fit the wide range of conditions we treat at Amana Healthcare, so all patients can have their care enhanced with technology if necessary.
2) Like no patient is the same, the approach to their treatment and care also differs. How do health-care providers such as Amana assist in enhancing patient experience for the medically complex patient?
Alongside medical quality of care, patient experience is a priority of Amana Healthcare under all types of services provided; long-term care, post-acute rehabilitation, transitional care and home care services. While each patient and their condition differ, the common approach for each is providing them with a happy, stable, and comfortable environment. This starts with the architectural structure and design of the hospital, which is built mimicking the style of an Emirati home.
Within the hospital, education, support groups, spiritual guidance and social support is offered to the patient and family, and group visits and social outings are arranged. Community involvement and social reintegration is encouraged as well, where Emirati youth volunteer to tie up with patients on cultural, artistic, and creative projects, giving the patients a goal and purpose to work towards. The discovery of each patient’s passion and pursuit is because at Amana Healthcare, each individual is empowered and encouraged to express their choices and opinions, which flourishes their characters.
3) As someone responsible for communications, how important is outreach and marketing for a medical center? What are the marketing and advertising platforms that care givers need to utilize (or are not utilizing enough) when communicating their strategies to potential clients?
Outreach and advertising are very important for Amana Healthcare, and implementing the right marketing tools and channels at the right time is key. Our communications channels are two-fold; we target business-to-business (B2B) marketing, and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing platforms.
While B2B is based on referrals between hospitals directly, Amana Healthcare also focuses on B2C by raising awareness to the general public to educate people of the types of services provided on par with international quality of care in the comfort of their own surroundings. While the patients are receiving equal, if not better medical quality of care to what they receive overseas, their families also benefit from a stable lifestyle. The patient and family experience is treated just as significantly as the medical care they receive at Amana Healthcare. The marketing tools we use to reach these audiences are through social media marketing, above-the-line (ATL) marketing and below-the-line (BTL) collateral, PR, educational material, awareness events for patients/families or general population in malls, print advertising, and outdoor media. We also prioritize word-of-mouth by collaborating Emirati youth with our patients on creative projects.
4) What have been some of the key defining technologies that Amana has invested in when caring for their patients? How do you build on this setup to strengthen your patient experience plan in 2017-18?
At Amana Healthcare, we use robotics to complement the three-to-five-hour daily, customised physiotherapy programmes for our patients. We utilise the Rex Bionics device, a self-supporting and self-balancing exoskeleton that allows people with severe mobility impairments, for example, people in a wheelchair after a spinal injury, to walk independently. The device can help people with a wide range of neurological conditions including stroke, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and other neurological disorders. Aside from the health benefits of improving their blood circulation, heart, digestive system and lungs, it’s proven to help improve one’s mood and sleep.
We also use an eye-tracking device, Eye-gaze, which allows users to communicate and interact with the world by using algorithms to calculate the patient’s eye-controlled systems. The device uses sensors to track eye movement, which is a form of rehabilitation exercise while simultaneously having the users look at control keys or cells displayed on the screen to generate speech either by typing a message or selecting pre-programmed phrases.
Eye-gaze can transform a person - simply because it encourages the individual to have a voice, express opinions and preferences, and communicate on a global level if they desired. For patients suffering from locked-in syndrome, a condition where the body and most of the facial muscles are paralysed, but the brain remains intact allowing ability for certain eye movements, Eye-gaze is a solution for connecting with the outside world.
Innovative technology is an impactful contributing element for our patients, and to further develop this area in our hospital, we’ve signed an MoU with ArcSecond, a California-based company who was involved in the Dubai Future Accelerators program for their rehabilitation device that accurately tracks and measures patient movements through their therapy sessions to record progress. For future plans, we’re also interested in Virtual Reality devices for our long-term care patients.