IBM and Saudi Ministry of Health Roll Out New Cloud-Based System to Tackle Infectious Diseases

RIYADH, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – May, 1 2013 –
IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Saudi Ministry of Health announced today the successful implementation of IBM’s Public Health Solution for Disease Management in Jeddah, Mekkah, Taif and Qunfudah which helps manage the risk of infectious and communicable diseases across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The new cloud-based system will provide public health professionals with tools to better protect the health of the Kingdom’s citizens with a secure, easy-to-use application to collect, share and analyze health information critical in managing public health outbreaks such as SARS, influenza and any other communicable diseases. The program will be in place throughout the entire Kingdom within three to five years.

The ability to automate all systems for health IT, immunizations, disease management and healthcare staff planning will help public health professionals reduce the spread of communicable diseases. It will allow for better communication among Saudi Arabia’s public health professionals that will help them fight outbreaks. Provinces and territories will have access to the tools to respond appropriately to epidemic-prone and emerging disease threats and in turn, help to minimize their impact on people’s health and on provincial and national economies.

The IBM system is already showing positive results, enrolling patients and visitors in a nationwide information network that can be used by doctors to improve productivity. Currently, more than 800 employees at the Ministry of Health are using the technology in less than seven months since it has been in use. During this time, more than 180,000 immunizations were administered and more than 1,000 investigations. It also helps unify the healthcare processes and reporting in the Kingdom through electronic records. This further enables the accurate sharing of important healthcare information among the various regions and the ministry's facilities.

The Deputy Minister for Public Health, Dr. Ziad Memish commented, “IBM’s innovative cloud-based healthcare technology serves as the foundation of the Ministry’s e-health scheme and infectious disease control program. It will help us improve public health in the Kingdom by keeping people healthier, enhancing vaccination coverage, identifying health issues and taking preventive measures to combat infectious diseases.”

The IBM Public Health Solution for Disease Management is designed to help exploit the vast amount of information available across kingdom to deliver better services to citizens. The ability to access and analyze this information allows health officials to make better decisions, anticipate problems to resolve them proactively, and coordinate resources to operate effectively.

Dr. Abdullah Al Wehaibi, Advisor to the Minister and General Supervisor of ICT said, “HESN will enhance the public health across the Kingdom and contribute to the unification of efforts towards better health for individuals, families and communities. The program will also provide health professionals and decision makers with accurate information that enables them to offer high-level services.”

With the ability to record and forecast immunizations, the technology can also be used to track the exact location of vaccines down to which refrigerator in each hospital to ensure enough supply is available. In the event of an outbreak of a serious communicable disease, the system will alert public health officials who will plan and direct actions to protect citizens.

"Technology has a significant role to play in the transformation of healthcare to provide smarter services across the Kingdom. Early outbreak detection and intervention are critical. IBM’s technology is a critical information system that will provide Ministry of Health medical professionals with tools needed to manage outbreaks through early detection, rapid verification and appropriate response to prone and emerging disease threats," said Mohamed Abdelhak, Country General Manager IBM Saudi Arabia.

“The implementation of IBM’s public health solution for disease management is a clear demonstration to IBM’s commitment to the healthcare industry in Saudi Arabia. We are working closely with the Saudi Ministry of Health to roll out the system across the Kingdom,” said Thomas Tattis, GBS Saudi Arabia Managing Partner at IBM.

IBM is helping cities around the world make smarter healthcare a reality through the use of technology, information sharing, solutions designed to improve the delivery of services for citizens, and analytics and insight to better manage the health of populations.

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Press Contacts:
Jumana Akkawi
External Relations Leader, IBM Middle East
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