Telecare for managing diabetes in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is struggling to provide quality healthcare services in light of the growing population, rapid spread of chronic diseases, and limited resources available. In addition to these obstacles, the Saudi society is a highly conservative one, and certain traditions may sometimes limit how healthcare services can be offered.\ud \ud This work examines the impact of a Telecare solution on the healthcare system at the National Guard Health Affairs (NGHA). It focuses on diabetes, and the challenges faced by both the healthcare officials at NGHA, and the patients. These challenges also include social factors that may pose at obstacle in delivering healthcare services. \ud \ud The ‘Telecare for Managing Diabetes – TeMaD’ system is designed and developed using the Soft Systems Methodology. It was then integrated into the hospital information systems at King Abdulaziz Medical City in the Central Region, and consisted of 52 participating patients, and four involved Diabetic Educators. HbA1c levels of all patients were recorded prior to commencement of the study. Patients were required to use TeMaD for a 3-month period, then, had their HbA1c levels recorded again after completion of the study. Overall observation of the results showed a reduction in the HbA1c levels of 83% of the patients.\ud \ud Participating patients expressed their acceptance of the system, indicating that TeMaD allowed them to overcome some obstacles such as lack of transportation. It also assisted the majority of participants to better manage their diabetes and ease communication with their diabetic educators. Most patients requested that the system be offered permanently at the clinic. Diabetic educators were in favour of integrating TeMaD into the current healthcare system at NGHA, and they were enthusiastic about its numerous benefits.\ud \ud Telecare solutions can be used to enhance the quality of healthcare services, meet current demands, and address obstacles faced by the healthcare system in Saudi Arabia, including social factors that are unique. They can be adopted by neighbouring Gulf States which share common obstacles in healthcare.
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