SHEIKH SHAKHBOUT MEDICAL CITY LAUNCHES AI-GUIDED POINT-OF-CARE ULTRASOUND ACADEMY IN A REGIONAL FIRST

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Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), one of the UAE’s largest hospitals for serious and complex care and a joint-venture partnership between Mayo Clinic and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), has become the first hospital in the Middle East to launch an academy for upskilling medical practitioners using the artificial intelligence (AI)-guided point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) device.

Dr. Siddiq Anwar, consultant nephrologist at SSMC said: “The point-of-care ultrasound or ‘POCUS’ academy, aims to equip health care professionals to enhance the physical examination of patients at bedside. This multidisciplinary course is important as it improves the initial assessment process, advances the timelines and quality of care for patients and, ultimately, saves more lives. We are excited to introduce to UAE and GCC health care professionals the POCUS academy course, fully dedicated to hemodynamics.”

“This initiative is part of SSMC’s Education Shield’s mission to become a research and innovation leader in the region and create opportunities for health care professionals to advance health care practices and deliver the highest quality of care through world leading training and strategic partnerships.” He added. 

The multidisciplinary course is led by Dr. Siddiq Anwar, Dr. Hatem Soliman, consultant cardiac intensivist at the Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals in the UK, and Fernando Maravilla, Director of Education at a medical device company. SSMC is the first facility to provide comprehensive POCUS Hemodynamic Assessment training all in one course, making the training program a first-of-its kind in the Middle East, with only a few courses available globally that cover this integrated topic.

By enabling health care professionals to make a more objective assessment of patients’ circulatory system, the AI-guided point-of-care ultrasound is set to replace the stethoscope over time.

Dr. Hatem Soliman commented: “This pioneering project will tremendously improve patient care as well as upskill the medical workforce with the stethoscope of the future. The stethoscope, which was invented by Laennec in 1816, derives from the Greek words ‘stethos’, which means chest, and ‘skopein’ which means to ‘see’, although the device actually only ‘listens’ to the sounds made by the heart, lungs, intestines, and the blood flow.”

POCUS does not replace in-depth or comprehensive consultation with specialists, however it helps address focused questions at bedside. The artificial intelligence tool aims to aid the non-expert with the learning curve and help practitioners to get quick answers to short or urgent questions about the patient’s condition at bedside assessment. Furthermore, the device can also be used in emergency situations across various specialties by any medical staff trained in POCUS. 

Dr. Deanne Kashiwagi, Chair of Internal Medicine and Director of Internal Medicine Program at SSMC said: “The inclusion of POCUS training into the Internal Medicine Residency program curriculum is a priority at SSMC. This tool advances traditional patient assessment modalities and expands our capacity to provide excellent patient-centered care.  For these reasons, POCUS training is an integral component of contemporary graduate medical education”.

Previously, the training course was available to SSMC practitioners only but is now also open to medical professionals across the UAE and GCC. The course is multidisciplinary, and includes theoretical lectures, followed by hands-on training. SSMC is currently establishing a center of excellence that brings cutting edge training into the region, so that health care practitioners don’t have to travel overseas for upskilling and training.

“As part of an ongoing research and academic partnership, all medical images and corresponding expert annotations captured during the training will be used to teach the machine-learning algorithms to recognize certain aspects of ultrasound images. The AI research project will be conducted in partnership with Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence and Khalifa University. Future iterations of the POCUS Academy will be open to health care practitioners from across the region and will play a pivotal role in establishing SSMC as a destination academic center.” concluded Dr. Siddiq Anwar.