Importance of efficient referral pathways across specialized therapy areas highlighted by Novartis within the UAE


Novartis, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, recently brought together more than 300 of the region’s leading primary care physicians and specialist providers for the first conference to discuss the importance of efficient referral pathways across specialized therapy areas.

Through a series of roundtables, plenary sessions and panel discussions, medical experts identified and discussed specific disease areas that need heighted care collaboration, including respiratory medicine, neurology, rheumatology, ophthalmology, and cardiometabolic disease. The meeting was facilitated with the aim to drive robust clinical pathways to ensure optimized clinical outcomes with shorter waiting times. Experts agreed enhancing communication and cooperation among clinicians and defining timelines for each stage of care is imperative to efficient care coordination.

A study assessing the efficiency of referral pathways in migraine management found 64.4% of patients in the study sought medical advice for their condition, and the majority of these patients were only seen by general practitioners (GPs). Only 4.6% received an accurate diagnosis, while 17.2% referred to a neurologist.  These outcomes highlight the need for more effective collaboration between GPs, who are often the first point of contact for patients, and specialist physicians to ensure patients receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Effective communication between healthcare providers and patients could help disease management and treatment compliance. One study surveying 200 asthma patients across the UAE found that only 70% of these patients were being actively followed up by their GP; 17% had scheduled follow-up visits and 15% had a written action plan. 31% were familiar with inhaled corticosteroids and shockingly, but only 5.5% were using them. Moreover, less than a quarter were aware of asthma management guidelines, highlighting the significant gap in patient-physician communication.

“Lack of continuity in the patient care journey can lead to lost time, worsened symptoms, case progression, self-medication and patients may even ‘shop’ between multiple doctors. On the other hand, integrated care ensuring GPs and specialist care providers are working together in synergy permits a holistic health system that drives timely care, optimal patient outcomes, warrants operational efficiency and enhances communication, amongst other benefits” said Dr. Khalid Alnaqbi, Consultant Rheumatologist, Adjunct Assistant Professor (UAE University), Vice President of Emirates Society for Rheumatology, at the event.

Mohammed Ezz Eldin, Head of Novartis Gulf Cluster commented “We are proud to host initiatives that help contribute to improving Patients’ quality of life. Our main objective was to shed light on the importance of creating a harmonized experience between general practitioners as well as healthcare specialists to drive better patient outcomes. A lot of important insights have been shared during this event which provides deep understanding around building successful patient care.”



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