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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Final Post from Riyadh (for now)

Yesterday was a fairly busy day for me, being the last day of a 10-day trip to Saudi Arabia.  Last week I spoke at KSU on eHealth Standards (I'll update the link for the slides when I get it).  Yesterday I attended a seminar organized by the Saudi Association for Health Informatics held at King Fahad Medical City.  To topic of the lecture was Innovation, and the presenter was Dr. Bassam Al Hemsi, an OHSU Alumna.  Dr. Al Hemsi had invited me to the lecture that afternoon, and it was a tight squeeze, but due to the kindess of an MOH employee (Dr. Ayman BafaQeeh), I was able to attend.  The kindness and hospitality of the Saudi's I have met here is quite overwhelming.

Dr. Al Hemsi has an extensive history in Healthcare and IT, including 5 major facilities in Saudi and as CIO of the National Guard's health system.  He is a surgeon, informaticist and educator, and an innovator in his own right.  The key point of his presentation was to describe what it would take for Saudi to become an innovator in Health IT.  He talked about how People + Processes + Information + Technology become products and services, and illustrated some of his own work in the field.  He emphasized the difference between a Leader and a Boss, and emphasized the importance of being the latter to his audience.  He also emphasized the need to do, and even to make mistakes as being important to developing the skills necessary to succeed.  I quite enjoyed his presentation, even as I recalled the many mistakes I have made in my career that taught me so much.

I got to spend some time with Dr. Al Hemsi at his clinic before the presentation, where he kindly showed me some of the innovative things he had designed for use in his Hemodialysis Clinic.  It was pretty cool stuff. The most impressive item was a 110" multi-touch display he had built, including the software his team had designed to make use of it, but he has also designed several medical devices and innovative software using a digital pen for data capture that he also uses in his clinic.

Dr. Al Hemsi is a good speaker, and his audience was quite engaged in the topic.  It was very clear to me, especially in the educational settings that I have been in over the past ten days that the current crop of Health Informatics students and practitioners in Saudi are quite enthusiastic about eHealth and Standards.