Speaking with POLICY in 2013, Dr Hazem Al Madi, CEO of Green Crescent, explains that moves to make health insurance compulsory in places such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai are part of a greater plan to further develop healthcare in the UAE. By increasing usage, the industry can grow naturally – a remedy which Edelheit advocates as essential to becoming a medical hub.
Technology and innovation Although much of the conversation surrounding healthcare has been about big business and attracting patients from abroad, one must not ignore what this will mean for citizens and residents of the UAE. In recent years, with the introduction of free zones, such as Healthcare City in Dubai, we are seeing a number of internationally recognised medical providers opening in the Emirate. With this comes huge investment that develops into improved technology, as well as a profound focus on sustainable development and innovation. POLICY speaks with GE Healthcare’s EAGM President and CEO, Skander Malcolm, about the future of healthcare innovation in the region, while he was speaking at the recent Arab Health exhibition in Dubai. Malcolm says: “This year at Arab Health we unveiled a brand new booth. This is the first time we have organised our equipment and software around care areas and departments, which is also a world first. We did this at Arab Health because there is a very big demand in the region.” Malcolm sheds light on the fact that the Mena region is growing, and glo- bal healthcare companies are investing heavily to help with the development of the industry. He also points out that the solution for success is rooted in Public Private Partnerships. “We are seeing ministries working with the private sector trying to solve healthcare at a system level. For example, our work in Saudi Arabia shows how we have developed a healthcare skills institute. That’s a straightforward productivity win between a kingdom and a company. Governments are realising private companies can solve a lot of their problems. We take the lessons we learnt over 125 years, then apply them in the region,” says Malcolm. It is fine talking about investing in innovative technology for healthcare, but with living costs spiralling out of control across the region, including the UAE. Concerns over medical inflation as a result of new technology have been a talking point for some time now. In agreement, Malcolm adds: “The cost of healthcare has gone up in an unacceptable way. When we invest in research and development, it is no good unless it helps reduce costs.” Malcolm also points the finger at the costs surrounding operational processes, claiming that a lot of money is wasted on workflows and the general operations of a hospital or clinic.
Saying this, the trend going forward seems to be echoing optimism. Business and tourism aside, the medical advancements in the region are reaching levels that match up with the best countries in the world. Malcolm shares his views on what to expect in the coming years from the region: “What we are seeing is innovation that helps gives a better diagnosis. On the technology side, software is improving and it is allowing images to be moved around in healthcare systems much more efficiently. Technology is one big trend, which is getting faster and stronger.” Overall, it’s clear that as the UAE develops healthcare, it does so with many different faces. In line with the nature of Dubai, big business and foreign investment sit at the heart of creating a better medical landscape. Although, theoretically speaking, an improved healthcare backdrop would mean better treatment for everyone in and out of the UAE, one must be wary of rising medical costs that will come out of technological usage, advancements and wastage. As well as inflation caused by a focus on serving visiting patients willing to pay a premium for what is still, at this stage, a perception of better healthcare.
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