The UAE Gets With The Guidelines

By Arab Health Magazine Staff

American Heart Association launches its performance benchmarking and improvement system in the UAE

The American Heart Association (AHA) has come to Dubai. In a first outside the United States, the UAE has implemented the AHA’s ‘Get With The Guidelines’ programme aimed at helping hospitals and staff improve their cardiovascular care. The UAE launch is supported by the Emirates Cardiac Society.

Speaking at the launch event in Dubai, Dr Kathryn Taubert, Vice President of International Science & Health Strategies at the AHA explained that the association had chosen the UAE as the first location for a global roll out due to the extensive amount of interest in supporting evidence-based medicine and international best practices from the country. 

Dr Abdullah Shehab, president of the Emirates Cardiac Society (ECS) explained that the AHA is very well known for their publications and guidelines and that there is a real, genuine interest in bringing in international best practices to cement the quality of care already on offer in the country. “You don’t know if you are getting better unless you are monitoring,” he continues, explaining that while hospitals have always monitored their performance in the UAE, bringing in firm, standard guidelines for cardiovascular departments will allow them to better gauge their performance between hospitals both locally and internationally.

The programme is an evidence-based, in-hospital continuous quality improvement process designed to improve treatment and prevent future cardiovascular and stroke events through consistent adherence to the latest scientific treatment guidelines. It was this that drew the ECS to the programme as they perceive it as being much more about the practice of medicine than a commercial programme, continues Shehab.

Sidney C. Smith Jr., M.D., a past president of the AHA and a global expert in quality improvement science and programmes explains that cardiovascular disease and stroke are the leading causes of death across the world. “The AHA has, for the last 10 years, had a special focus on the Middle East, working in different programmes here.” Citing the success of the programme in the USA, he highlights the fact that “more than 2,100 hospitals in the United States are involved with quality improvement, evidence-based medicine and we’ve seen a 30% decline in 30-day mortality after heart attacks… These programmes that are working in the United States can get out to the rest of the world and make a difference.”

The programme works by collecting data in an online, interactive assessment and reporting system that supports data submissions while tracking a hospital’s performance in delivering guidelines-based treatment. It is important, stresses Taubert that each hospital have a designated person in charge of the data in order to make sure that the data is stored and transmitted correctly. The manner in which hospitals collect the data ‘on the ground’ is hospital dependent but the best practice, she explains, is that the data is entered into the system while the patient is in the hospital. This can, she admits, be a challenge but once implemented the programme can support the clinical decision making.

Sidney C. Smith Jr., M.D. explains that there are efforts underway to integrate the data collection with hospital EHR systems, something that Dr Abdullah Shehab points out is already happening in Dubai as part of the DHA’s recent Salama programme announcement.

With the launch of the ‘Get With The Guidelines’ programme and the support of the local Emirates Cardiac Society, as well as integration with the DHA’s Salama programme, cardiovascular care in the UAE looks set to take a great leap forward.