Background: Increased frequency of epidemics such as MERS, SARS, EDOLA, ZIKA has been creating stress on the healthcare management and operations, and relevant stakeholders. In addition, the recent COVID-19 outbreak has been creating challenges for various countries and their respective healthcare industries for managing and controlling the pandemic. One of the important observations, which can be observed from the recent developments is the lack of effective E-Health framework for managing and controlling pandemics.
Objective: Focusing on the limitation, this study reviews the current National E-Health strategy of Saudi Arabia, and proposes an integrated E-Health framework, which can be effective for managing healthcare operations and services during pandemics.
Methods: A questionnaire-based survey was administered with 316 healthcare professionals for reviewing the current National E-Health framework of Saudi Arabia, and identify the key objectives, factors and components necessary for managing and controlling pandemics. Purposive sampling was used to collect responses from diverse experts including physicians, technical experts, nurses, administrative experts, pharmacists etc. The survey was administered at five hospitals in Saudi Arabia, by forwarding the survey link using the online portal. A final sample rate of 350 was achieved, which was filtered for excluding the incomplete and ineligible sample, giving a sample of 316, which is considered for the study.
Results: 59.2% of the total participants identified the current E-Health framework to be ineffective and more than 50% of the total participants stated that it lacked few essential components and objectives. The additional components and objectives focusing on using E-Health for managing information, creating awareness, increasing accessibility and reachability, promoting self-management and self-collaboration, promoting E-services, and extensive stakeholder engagement were considered to be most important by more than 80% of the total participants.
Conclusions: Managing pandemics require an effective and efficient E-Health framework, which can be used for managing various healthcare services by integrating and collaborating all the stakeholders in relation to the different E-Health components.