Using Data To Combat Covid-19

Orion Health’s digital solutions are empowering healthcare organisations to respond to COVID-19

Orion Health has been lead- ing the digital revolution of the global healthcare sector for 27 years. From its headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand, the company has branched out into 13 countries — where it has in- troduced health information ex- changes (HIEs), remote patient monitoring systems, outbreak management solutions, among other software tools, in order to improve the efficiency, cost-ef- fectiveness and patient outcomes of healthcare operations around the world. 

“The response to Covid-19 in New Zealand has been applauded across the globe. Taking an elimination approach involving a swift and strict lockdown, the country has been successful in containing the outbreak. At the time of writing, there had been only 1,147 cases and 21 deaths recorded. Orion Health played a major role by working closely with the New Zealand National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) by running the daily disease spread models and reporting on scenario results. The scenario results provided indicators such as predicted daily cases, ICU admissions and deaths, which ultimately enabled government and district health board decision makers to plan ahead and to evaluate expected outcomes as they progressed through the different pandemic control levels, with the country able to return to near-normality 75 days after first going under lockdown,” explains Sam Amory,
General Manager – Middle East & Africa at Orion Health. 

In the Gulf, Orion Health has an office in Dubai and projects in multiple regions including United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and others.

While Orion Health’s product portfolio is extensive, it is informed by the company’s vision to revolutionise global healthcare so that every individual receives the perfect care for them. This supports the shift from hospital-centric care to care delivered in the community or home setting, and empowering healthcare professionals to seamlessly offer an effective service to patients regardless of the latter’s location. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has highlighted this need to provide care outside of the hospital setting where possible.  

Orion Health’s HIE forms the core of its operations. HIEs allow healthcare providers to access and share appropriate patient medical record data from multiple care settings securely and electronically in one place. Providers including acute hospitals, specialist hospitals, medical centers, clinics, pharmacies, and even dentists can then access a holistic patient record and collaborate on their care. HIEs deliver far-reaching efficiency gains for healthcare organisations through areas such as fewer duplicated tests, improved medication safety and reduced time wasted searching for information.

In the UAE, Orion Health has most prominently made its mark in Abu Dhabi, where it has sup- ported the public-private enter- prise Malaffi to unify previous- ly separate Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems into an emirate-wide patient informa- tion platform, the Middle East’s first HIE. 

“Everything about a patient, whether they’re going to a clinic, then getting a blood test at a laboratory, and then an X-ray at a different hospital, all that information becomes available on a single screen,” explains Mr. Amory. The outdated practice of relying on patient testimonials for medical histories is thus eliminated.

As of April 2020, Malaffi comprised 69 million unique clinical records of over 3 million patients, gathered using input from 509 healthcare sites. More than 1350 facilities have signed up to share data with Malaffi in the near future. 

It is common for an HIE to begin in one region, then maximise the learnings, investment and benefits by expanding out the successful platform to neighboring regions. For the benefit of patient care in the rest of the UAE, it would be possible to take the Malaffi HIE blueprint and roll it out to the other emirates, saving time and cost in comparison with starting new programmes from scratch. Having seen a single HIE instance work well across regions in Scotland, Northern Ireland and New Zealand, this is something that Orion Health hopes to work on with the regional health authorities in the near future.

Moving beyond the sharing of data, HIEs are beginning to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide various types of analyses, such as predictive insights about a patient’s health. By utilising the rich data in an HIE, algorithms can be built around areas such as surgical outcomes, risk of readmission, clinical risk assessments and more. This emerging data science is key to the global shift from reactive to predictive healthcare, and to preserving infrastructural and economic resources as healthcare systems come under growing pressure from population growth and aging populations. 

COVID-19 interventions 

While there has been a steady growth of healthcare innovation around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated the urgency of digitised operations. 

“Every single one of our customers has taken this chance to use the data they have to respond to COVID-19 in the most effective way,” shared Mr. Amory.

Malaffi is providing the Abu Dhabi government with real-time COVID-19 updates using an expansion of its existing HIE that collects test results from onboarded healthcare sites, as well as other testing sites in the emirate. Moreover, the HIE also monitors other key pandemic indicators, which allows the government to keep track of the spread of the virus, gauge the effectiveness of preventive measures and improve resource distribution.  

“Today, patient information in Abu Dhabi is well on its way to being fully integrated,” Mr. Amory adds. “Creating this data repository through the Malaffi HIE gives the government a clearer perspective about the state of public health and paves the way to better predicting outbreaks and managing diseases such as COVID-19 in the future.”

Orion Health’s international customers have pushed for advanced technological interventions that are ripe for emulation in the UAE. In New Zealand, for instance, to support machine learning and AI Orion Health has signed on to deliver a
National Algorithm Management Solution, which will facilitate planning mechanisms such as scenario modelling and risk prediction, and thus inform the New Zealand government and healthcare sector’s ongoing COVID-19 plan of action. 

Orion Health also launched an outbreak management system in March, which allows patients and healthcare providers to remotely monitor and communicate COVID-19 symptoms and results. This is live across customer sites in North America, Europe and South America.

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