Saudi-Italian relations were “revived” by the foreign minister’s visit to the kingdom.

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Telemedicine in Hajj: Doctors in Riyadh in the virtual hospital treat pilgrims in Mecca

RIYADH: Telemedical services in Saudi Arabia have done their part to ensure a healthy Hajj season, with doctors in Riyadh successfully treating pilgrims in Mecca.

The Seha Virtual Hospital in Riyadh offers a range of services including the diagnosis of four stroke cases and the analysis of six cephalometric images, the kingdom’s health ministry said on Monday.

The virtual hospital also helped save the life of a pilgrim who needed remote intensive care.

According to the ministry, more than 1,700 pilgrims have benefited from virtual medical consultations through its Sehhaty app.

The medical services provided by SVH have been connected to the hospitals of the holy sites in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah under the supervision of a team of consultants working 24/7 in three main departments: Virtual Radiology, Virtual Stroke and Virtual Intensive Care.

The departments supported 13 hospitals operating within the sanctuary.

A digital goal for this year’s Hajj season was to provide a comprehensive report of all types of X-rays and scans, including CTs, MRIs and ultrasounds, within 30 minutes of the procedure being performed.

The ministry said it added virtual stroke services this year to address one of the leading causes of death and permanent disability.

It added that the “golden window” for treatment is no more than 4.5 hours and there is a shortage of specialists working in the field.

SVH stroke and critical care teams made several visits to hospitals ahead of the start of the Hajj season to ensure their readiness.

Staff received lectures and field training on identifying and diagnosing cases and using telemedicine equipment to facilitate virtual tours, the ministry added.

The UK’s first virtual hospital SVH was launched this year by the Ministry of Health as part of efforts to digitize the healthcare sector.

With a growing live network of 130 affiliated hospitals, SVH is the largest of its kind in the world. The only other virtual hospital that can compete with this is in the US with 43 affiliated hospitals.

SVH patients no longer need to travel to different parts of the UK to be seen by specialist doctors, nor be restricted to 9am-5pm clinical hours, and they can receive second and third opinions from the same consulting room.

Unlike simple video calls to doctors, SVH allows patients to visit their local hospital and participate in a live, real-time clinical video session with leading specialists from across the UK. During the session, vital signs can be shared momentarily, while tests and X-rays can also be taken and shared with the network of specialists.

Emergency interventions can be provided 24/7, and real-time consultations with top specialists will also help local junior staff deal with complex cases.

SVH covers 12 major specialties and more than 35 sub-specialties, including in-hospital at-home follow-ups that allow chronically ill patients to stay in touch with doctors from the comfort of their own homes.

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