Noha Al Afifi
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Students at Carnegie Mellon Qatar develop online patient referral system
System aims to improve communication between health care centers and the Qatar Diabetes Association
DOHA, QATAR—During the fall semester, four students from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar worked for 15 weeks to develop an information system for the Qatar Diabetes Association.
The project is part of the final year senior project that Information Systems students must complete for graduation. The students taking part in this project were Amal Al Barwani, Khalid Alsooj, Nasreen Zahan and Shakir Hussain. The students were supervised by Dr. Divakaran Liginlal, Associate Teaching Professor and by Dr. Selma Limam Mansar, Coordinator, Information Systems. "The senior year projects are designed to expose the students to working with real clients on developing applications for their businesses," said Dr. Mansar. "The projects typically require an integration of the skills and knowledge gained throughout the students' undergraduate studies and are guided by Carnegie Mellon's principles of collaboration, innovation and problem solving."
This project was developed in collaboration with the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR) e-health division, the first such project between ictQATAR and Carnegie Mellon's Information Systems program. Anthony McCourt, ictQATAR's e-health project manager, helped the team by providing strategic counsel on developing a services-oriented e-health product that could directly benefits clinicians and patients. Out of the discussions materialized the development of a patient referral system for the Qatar Diabetes Association (QDA). There is a high prevalence of the disease in Qatar as nearly 17 percent of the population is diabetic, according to recent statistics. Ms Sharoud Al-Jundi Matthis, Director of QDA, explained: "With the increasing prevalence of diabetes in Qatar, we needed a technology that can capture the data of diabetic patients as they get referred by physicians."
The project resulted in building an online referral application that will augment the communication between physicians at health care centers and specialists at the Qatar Diabetes Association. Through this system, specialists from QDA instantly receive referrals of diabetic patients from physicians and are able to send their feedback and patients' progress through the application, making the entire process more efficient. "This online transactional referral system is not going to be an extra load for the physicians," said Shakir Hussain, one of the Information Students on the project. It is a transactional referral system enabling two-way communication between physicians and nutritionists. Patients gain assurance that follow-up on their case is swift and timely as delays in receiving the information are reduced.
The students gained a lot from the project. "Last semester, we had worked on a very similar project, but we were our own clients," said Nasreen Zahan. "This project gave us real-life experience."
"We were very pleased to be involved in such a project in a sector as important as healthcare," said Dr. Mansar. "We hope to continue working on projects in this sector, developing similar systems for other diseases."