Health Information Technology (HIT) in Arab Countries: A Systematic Review Study on HIT Progress
Information Technology is changing the shape of globalized operations in all fields. Over the years, most developed countries have succeeded in implementing information technology in major parts of their economy and society including the healthcare sector. While on the other hand, developing countries, especially the Arab world, are mostly far behind in properly implementing HIT systems within their healthcare sectors. This paper aims at identifying the current status of HIT within Arab countries, discussing the methods of utilizing and securing HIT systems, finding the barriers and proposing possible solutions to HIT implementation. Studies were searched in IEEE, PUBMED, Springer link and JHIDC using predefined criteria and retrieved in the period of publication from 2001 to July 2014. The systematic review included primary studies of health information systems within Arab Countries. Study types included conceptual, exploratory, and cross-sectional and action-research studies both in English and Arabic languages. A total of 29 studies were retrieved out of 655 studies. The findings show that besides having access to financial resources, most of Arab countries lagged behind in HIT due to lack of dedicated financial resources and professional incompetency. Public hospitals funded by the governments have a lack of professional utilization of IT , while private hospitals do not have sufficient funds to implement HIT. HIT systems are a cornerstone of the healthcare sector development in many forms such as telemedicine, EMR, and E-Health. Arab countries need to make a strategic plans to overcome the financial and cultural barriers in order to be competitive in the HIT field. Research centers should be also encouraged and supported to promote scientific researches in this field.
Arab World; Barriers; Healthcare Systems; Information Technology; Medical Informatics; Electronic Health Records.