As a veteran of the healthcare system in Dubai, with positions in GE Health, Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, Sam Amory has seen how the industry has progressed over the last decade. Now, as a participant in Dubai Future Accelerators, he is hoping that novel pop-up consult stations will help to screen for disease in the UAE population
Tell us about the problem you are addressing with the Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) programme.
Our startup Alpha System’s aim is to create a digitally connected health city in the UAE and help reduce some of the elements that are affecting healthcare in the region today.
In a typical UAE public hospital, people wait on average for 6-8 hours in Accident and Emergency, and 85 per cent of those people are being discharged because they don’t need to be there. This ultimately affects the day-to-day running of emergency services. Even if we reduce that number by 20 or 30 per cent, we will have a massive impact. I think we’re very much placed to do that today.
What did you create to try and solve that problem?
We created the UAE’s first digital mobile clinic. It looks a little like an old-fashioned phone box – our mentees at Dubai Future Accelerators even call it ‘the Tardis’.
It’s a cabin in which people can sit down and have a conversation with a General Physician (GP) via video conferencing. The cabin has 12 devices inside it that can measure things like blood pressure, heart rate, temperature or even an ECG, with the help of an on-site assistant; we do 80 per cent of what can be done in a GP clinic.
We want to know what percentage of the population has what diseases; what age group they are; how many are obese. Once we know this... that’s when we can start to affect change
At the end of the consultation the physician can print out a prescription, make a referral or give a sick note – whatever suits the situation. You pretty much never need to go to a doctor unless you have a serious emergency or need an operation.
What stage was Alpha Systems at when you decided Dubai Future Accelerators was a good fit?
We had a few booths and consult stations around the world, but what we are trying to create in the UAE is a concept of a digitally connected health city. We were looking for a platform that could help ignite our idea, and a few people recommended DFA. We applied through the website and went through several committee interviews before we got to where we are today.
Where will you source the physicians?
We have our own network of physicians that we can supply and Dubai Health Authority can also utilise their own network. The physicians can be living as far away as a boat in the Bahamas or as close as a local doctor that wants to take on some extra shifts, so long as they are registered.
Where will the consult stations be?
From malls, supermarkets, schools or even army bases, there are multiple different locations they could be installed in. Space is also not an issue, as the consult stations have a height and width of just two metres.
What kind of health issues will you be looking to address in the UAE?
The UAE has one of the highest percentages of chronic disease in the world, so the race is on to address this statistic with initiatives. An example of how Alpha Systems can help with chronic disease prevention is the camera in our consult stations, which takes retina scans for sufferers of diabetes. The camera can see the progression of this disease, and depending on the results, dieticians can then be found to help reduce deterioration.
Another focal point for the UAE is wellness and mental health. In our consult station, you can go in and discuss problems you are having, and that is an area we really want to hone in on.
In general, the consult stations will greatly assist censuses in the country. We want to know what percentage of the population has what diseases; what age group they are; how many are obese. Once we know all that, that’s when we can start to segregate the population and really affect change within the UAE’s health system.