It was 2020. The world was suddenly in the middle of the horrid blaring truth of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNPREPARED! And one organisation that resolved to fight this daunting challenge head-on was the Ambulatory Healthcare Services (AHS), a member of the SEHA public health system in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, UAE. Agile leadership, a holistic approach towards the health, safety, and comfort of its population, and smart strategic planning that culminated into the swift deployment of AHS COVID-19 National Drive-Through Screening Centers (Fig 1) made AHS one of the winners at the 7th International Best Practice Competition held in May 2021.

The UAE government was quick to recognise that early identification through mass screening was key to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. In March 2020 multifunctional teams converged to create AHS’s rapid in-vehicle screening mechanism to conduct mass COVID-19 PCR testing. The first center was constructed over 4 days. It was fast and accurate; a driver and 3 passengers could be screened within 10 mins without leaving the car.

Fig 1: Team SEHA COVID-19 National Drive-Through Screening

After a successful Day-1 and upon the directive of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, AHS-UAE made history by constructing a total of 18 drive-through screening hubs across the seven Emirates of UAE within 15 days. Time constraints were addressed by establishing necessary teams. To cover the manpower gaps for swift execution, AHS closed non-essential services like dental and partnered with volunteering organisations. The drive-through screening model became the foundation of the AHS primary care strategic approach to the pandemic program across the SEHA-AHS network.

The AHS drive-through center in Abu Dhabi was inspired by the success of the South Korea Drive-Through Model, but with significant strategic improvements. Based on the day-to-day review of the feedback from all stakeholders, the team undertook a proactive risk assessment to ensure a more robust process with enhanced capability before deployment. The SEHA-AHS team’s multi-layered strategic planning led to quicker turnaround time, accessible, contactless, safer, convenient (for staff and patients), and more efficient drive-through process that prevents cross-infection while conducting the tests, allowing an increase in the testing capacity (Fig 2).

Fig 2: Pre-screening was on SEHA’s patient portal, registration on UAE’s national ID system, with 4 dedicated drive-through lanes per hub, 12hr/day

AHS conducted more than 5 million PCR tests till Apr 2021 and achieved more than 86% customer satisfaction. The SEHA model enabled UAE to conduct mass screening campaigns that resulted in timely identification of positive cases and their isolation, contact tracing, immediate treatment of patients, also critical for high-risk groups, and minimisation of complications.

The drive-through screening centers put UAE at the forefront of the nations tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The UAE captured worldwide attention as it ranked first in the number of COVID-19 tests carried out per capita in July 2020 (Fig 3), and was among the world’s first countries to test 50 percent of its population. The SEHA drive-through model was immediately replicated and adopted by entities within and outside Abu Dhabi and UAE, e.g., Saudi Arabia, the SEHA Drive-Through COVID-19 Vaccination Centers in UAE, etc.

Fig 3: CNN graph shows UAE’s COVID-19 testing more than doubled than that of the USA.

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Posted by: Ahmed Abbas
Author: Dr. Almas Tazein
Source :

BPIR Category : 12.6 Implement emergency response programs
13.9 Anticipate public concerns
14.3.5 Reengineer business processes & systems
2.5.4 Identify and manage risks
3.2.1 Translate customer needs into product requirements
3.6.1 Manage product/process/service development
6.1.1 Plan key production & delivery processes
6.3.2 Provide the service
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