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Leadership Interview Series: AHIMA International highlights leaders from across the globe. They will discuss the impact of COVID-19 and the way forward.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, we sat down with Dr. Osama Elhassan, PhD, M.Sc., who is the co-founder and vice-chair of Emirates Health Informatics Society. Dr. Osama sheds light on the current focus and initiatives in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and how COVID-19 is highlighting the need for timely, accurate and complete health data.

Dr. Osama, what does health information management (HIM) mean in the region?

In my opinion, HIM is the logical grouping of heterogeneous yet integrative disciplines/professions within healthcare that aim to maximize the quality and trust of health information. This trust is initiated by ensuring the conformance of patient assessment documentation and by demonstrating compliance throughout the health information exchange process.

What are primary health focus areas in your region?

Most of the GCC region countries have realized that universal health coverage, along with digital transformation projects facilitating connected care, are the most effective ways governments can tame the rising cost of healthcare.

Are there any key initiatives you wish to highlight?

Health information exchange projects are mushrooming across the GCC region. We are also witnessing projects that target public health and outbreak management.

What has been the impact of COVID-19?

The region has learned many lessons from COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of data standards and medical coding to achieve timely, accurate, and complete health information, connected care solutions (such as HIE), and disease registries. Also, virtual care is becoming an important part of the new normal in healthcare delivery.

What does the future hold?

Both healthcare organizations and regulators are seeking HIM professionals that can support digital transformation projects across the healthcare ecosystem. Through its training programs, AHIMA can provide an international perspective with a local flavor, as well as best practices and implementation tools to ensure the accuracy and the reliability of clinical information for better healthcare outcomes.

As a member of the AHIMA International Strategic Advisory Council, what do you hope to contribute?

I look forward to assisting AHMIA through my expertise and deep understanding of the healthcare ecosystem dynamics in the GCC region, and in the UAE in particular. I can help AHIMA tailor its strategy, service provision. and workforce development activities according to

our specific needs and challenges. I believe we can work together to build strategic partnerships while localizing education content and certification programs.