Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) and Amana Healthcare have partnered to expand home phlebotomy (blood drawing) services for a larger population of patients with diabetes who are considered to be one of the most vulnerable group of the community to infection and disease. It is estimated that more than 16 percent of the UAE adult population has some form of diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation’s 2019 Diabetes Atlas.
This partnership is in line with the Healthcare Programme for Senior Citizens and Individuals with Chronic Illnesses run by the Department of Health Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre. It aimed at providing comprehensive services to vulnerable patients remotely or through home visits, alongside the in-person services offered at medical facilities.
ICLDC has been offering home phlebotomy to the most vulnerable of its patients for the past three months with a capacity of 40 visits per day. With the support of Amana Healthcare, a fellow Mubadala Healthcare provider that is highly experienced in the field of homecare, the service can be offered to a broader spectrum of patients in a wider catchment area, with up to 300 patients visited daily.
Hasan Jasem Al Nowais, Senior Vice President of Mubadala Healthcare, says: "In the ‘new normal’ of healthcare that focuses on protecting the most vulnerable patients, this partnership is yet another example of how the facilities in our integrated network can leverage their strengths to support each other and provide a better service to patients in the community.
"We are continuously exploring opportunities for collaboration both internally and externally, with a view to providing flexible services and tailoring what we can offer to meet the nation’s most pressing healthcare needs."
International bodies such as the World Health Organization have classified certain groups as being particularly vulnerable to infectious conditions, including older patients and those with chronic diseases. As ICLDC has so many diabetes patients who are older and have other comorbidities such as obesity and kidney disease, it is essential to take steps to lower their risk of further illness, and to start offering at-home alternatives for medical services they need, such as blood tests to monitor their condition.
Dr. Alya Saif Faris Ghanem Al Mazrouei, Acting Deputy Executive Director of ICLDC, elaborates: "It has been established that patients with poorly controlled blood sugar have worse outcomes when exposed to any infectious illnesses. If they are elderly and have other comorbidities as well, it is vital that they avoid mingling with non-household members or taking public transport. However, they need to continue to have regular blood tests to manage their condition.
"The phlebotomy service is being expanded not only in terms of the eligible categories, but also for those patients who live further afield. It is essential that these patients always follow the UAE health authority warnings, and our home-phlebotomy service is just one way we help them to comply with official regulations."
Dr. Alya Al Mazrouei says the results of the blood tests are available within 24 hours, after which the ICLDC physicians will follow up with a teleconsultation and, if a prescription is necessary, instruct ICLDC’s home medication delivery service accordingly.
Mark E. McGourty, CEO of Amana Healthcare, says: "We are delighted to be able to leverage our expertise in homecare and our highly trained nurses to partner with ICLDC in helping protect its vulnerable patients. As fellow Mubadala Healthcare providers, we share a joint patient-first philosophy, and we are well-equipped to offer medical care and comfort to these patients."
The expanded service will initially cover ICLDC patients in the cities of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai who are aged 60 and over, and who have one of the following conditions: poorly controlled blood sugar, pregnancy, kidney disease (eGFR < 40), or unstable thyroid conditions.
Patients who do not yet qualify for the home phlebotomy service can make use of ICLDC’s appointment-only express phlebotomy facility, available at its Zayed Sports City and Al Ain branches. Here, they can have their blood tested in a separate, demarcated area, followed by a teleconsultation once the results are available.