Naufar: Establishing innovative, tech-based solutions to treat addiction across the Middle East healthcare sector
In the last five years, the population in Qatar has grown exponentially, attracting expatriates on a global scale. The healthcare landscape has shifted in alignment with such a changing demographic, attracting new talent and medical expertise, leading Qatar’s health system to be ranked 13th best in the world globally.
The country’s vision to deliver exceptional patient-centred care, as set down by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) and National Health Strategy 2011-2016, has also led Qatar to establish new projects, initiatives and services to cater to the health of its citizens.
One such area of focus is the global need for rehabilitation services for those suffering from addiction. In the US, misuse of opioids and addiction remains the lead cause of accidental death in the country, with alcohol misuse following closely behind.
The use of opioids includes heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, as well as prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and others, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).
However, the US is not alone. Addiction has impacted health services globally, leading countries to increasingly innovate and disrupt outdated healthcare models and implement new, personalised healthcare tools and solutions.
With an estimated population of 2.69mn, Qatar’s population has tripled in a decade. Whilst Qatari nationals equate to less than 15% of the country’s total population, its growing expat figures have led to an emerging need for wellness and recovery services.
“Within the whole GCC and the Middle East there’s a significant demand for these services,” reflected Information Technology Director Fady Saad.
“However, the stigma around addiction as a whole is a challenge. We exist in a culture that does not quite understand addiction and does not really appreciate that it is a disease rather than a lack of good behaviour.”
The establishment of Qatar’s Public Health Strategy 2017-2022 is set to improve the health and wellbeing of the country’s population and promote understanding of a number of healthcare conditions.
The country’s bid to provide exceptional, connected patient care has also led to the development of a new, digital infrastructure as part of its growing e-health strategy, which will lead to the overhaul of traditional treatment models, the launch of bespoke, tailored solutions, and will grant patients increased choice and control over how they are treated.
However, this will not be without its challenges.
“The healthcare sector is facing major challenges, not just in Qatar. This is even from my experience in the US,” observes Saad. “There are challenges around integration and being able to communicate data. There are a lot of issues around privacy and confidentiality of data. This also links to safety issues which come with patients.
“Nevertheless, the more you know about patients when they show up in an emergency room, the more you’re able to treat the patient. I think that has been one of the biggest IT targets in the healthcare industry over the last several years.”
With a goal to provide a healing environment to assist those with behavioural disorders, Naufar has been established to treat substance use disorders as its primary focus and drive Qatar’s vision to provide exceptional, bespoke healthcare solutions to Guest Clients.
By adopting a five-star hospitality and wellness approach, Naufar works to look at our patients, who it terms Guest Clients, from a holistic approach, rather than simply an addiction or rehabilitation candidate.
“We are quite unique. We have a top end spa and recreation facilities, better than any other healthcare facility which I can think of. There’s quite a bit which we can offer that I think will contribute to meet Qatar’s national vision,” says Saad.
Looking at each Guest Client from multiple perspectives, Naufar works to tailor programmes that help them on their recovery journey, reintegrating into society and living healthier lives. Individual and group treatment, alongside outstanding personalised services with a multi-disciplinary approach has led Naufar to significantly improve Qatar’s traditional treatment models.
“In addition to providing psychotherapy and physical therapy services, Naufar offers residential and outpatient treatment programmes, daycare, recovery and engagement (Matrix Model) programmes.” adds Saad.
“We are showing people in society how people have changed. We have some success stories where people have come to Naufar and they have successfully completed our programme and reintegrated into society. They have also courageously spoken about their issues and their addiction and how they’ve overcome it. Reintegrating Guest Client’s been one of the biggest successes and advocates for meeting some of the challenges around stigma.”
“We’re not just focusing upon one thing, we’re covering people’s wellness as a whole,” he continues. “We’re making sure that they are well as a human being not just focusing on the addiction. We see ourselves as being recognised as a centre of excellence in the region.”
Naufar has designed a facility that emphasises providing comfort and hospitality. Guest Clients are able to obtain services which are top end, with visual aids, audio equipment and bookable rooms all on offer.
As part of the country’s vision, Naufar’s implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) has seen the organisation build both an exceptional IT team and clinical team. Working together, its partnership with EMR provider Mindlinc has seen Naufar tailor its systems towards the needs of its Guest Clients, giving it an edge over other service providers.
“Qatar is in the process of implementing its e-health platform to share data and integrate all stakeholders in healthcare. We’ve tailored a lot of things in order to standardise how care is delivered to patients and collect discrete and consistent data,” says Saad.
“It’s typical that people invested in a product, rather than the efforts required for customisation of that product. We had limitations in terms of how we select an application, but we have tailored a number of things to support how care is delivered to Guest Clients at Naufar and built forms in the EMR to try and capture a number of disciplines.”
By collaborating with Gartner, Naufar has strengthened its capabilities surrounding the treatment of addiction and the utilisation of personalised tools. “Gartner gave us suggestions, articles, connected us to expert analysts where we can get into more detail about a topic that we needed to make a decision on,” says Saad. “They also helped in contracts review and negotiation tactics.”
Its partnership with VAMED has also enabled Naufar to carry out key IT upgrade projects in under two years, which in turn ensures the delivery of consistent positive Guest Client outcomes. “For 18 months, employees from VAMED were basically my IT team, flying in resources whenever needed in order to make sure that we succeeded,” added Saad.
“We engaged with VAMED for a number of reasons. Number one is their healthcare expertise. Number two is that they build hospitals and rehabilitation centres around the world, so were able to inject the resources and expertise quickly. They have been an instrumental partner in achieving what we have done and what we’ve achieved as of yet.
Such improvements have been further developed through Naufar’s partnership with KAAR Technologies, where the organisation has adopted digital tools from SAP to optimise its business processes. “Since we have S4 HANA, which is the in-memory database of SAP, it enables us to initiate the BI/analytics components which will see us gain the building blocks for Naufar to contribute to the bigger picture of addiction through research outcomes and enable the delivery of exceptional services,” says Saad.
Lastly, Naufar’s partnerships have been strengthened through its data centre and managed services provider, MEEZA, who have injected technical expertise to develop its infrastructure foundation and provide Naufar with the proactive monitoring services to protect Naufar’s digital investments.
Similarly to any other chronic disease across the healthcare sector, Saad explains that addiction requires the use of advanced data and technology to make informed decisions in order for the organisation to provide exceptional support and treatment.
In its drive to stitch together a complete view of a Guest Client, Naufar’s multidisciplinary approach sees it utilise data and analytics to create a bespoke plan for each Guest Client. Capturing data from each clinical discipline, all findings are documented within each Guest Client’s personalised multidisciplinary report (MDT). The report seeks to consolidate all essential information on the progress of each Guest Client and highlights how Naufar can work to support each client’s wellness goals to place them on the road to recovery.
“We do things differently. We’re not standard rehabilitation – we make it unique, less stigmatising and more rounded, rather than the focus on the addiction,” stresses Saad. “A lot of clinical staffers are interested in moving away from this stigma of addiction in order to address the actual needs of our Guest Clients this way.”
Data sharing capabilities
With this in mind, Naufar has focused heavily on recruiting exceptional staff to drive its vision to fully embrace IT and technology to develop personalised care within the treatment of addiction. Saad credits Naufar’s success of the organisation to the commitment and hard work of its team. He highlighted the competence, attitude and approach of his IT team and their ability to integrate within the business as partners has been a major contributor to the success.
“Most importantly, our Guest Clients, our dedicated staff, the families of our Guest Clients and our national stakeholders are all instrumental partners in making Naufar a success,” he adds.
To further promote its reliable, transparent and secure communication capabilities, Naufar’s readiness to the country’s e-health strategy for a joined-up care model has seen it look at new ways to share data and support different sectors of healthcare, now and in the future.
Its collaboration with Cisco has seen the organisation implement the company’s Medical Grade Network, which also details a framework for the organisation to meet specific Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance requirements and connects with the need to promote the sharing of health data in Qatar.
“This has made sure the foundation block for our IT is driven by top end technology to secure our data and leverage communication. This then enabled us to build applications on a strong backbone,” explains Saad.
Through its bid to leverage technology to create exceptional, patient-focused solutions to treat addiction, Naufar will increasingly work to increasingly share data to further its knowledge sharing capabilities. The organisation will also gain the ability to provide localised statistics relating to its niche area surrounding the treatment of addiction going forward.
“I think on a national level we will then be able to inform, change policy to treat addiction a bit differently,” concludes Saad.
“We want to establish ourselves as a centre of excellence to mark our footprint and show the community that we’re moving people from a vulnerable state and reintegrating them back in society. The push is there, and the initiative is there to show people we are unique and can make a change in the treatment of addiction.”