Advanced systems, new technologies and international accreditations
The UAE adopts a practical approach to the development of the health sector, which aims to establish a distinctive health model that responds to the increasing challenges to high-quality health services and enhances the competitiveness of the country by providing specialized medical services according to the best international practices and the latest state-of-the-art medical devices and specialized staff that contribute to improving the level of health services.
The country has witnessed a significant development in the health development, and has made a major leap in this field, providing the best international practices associated with the international accreditations that are necessary to upgrade the work systems in health facilities. The State is also seeking to raise the capacity of hospitals to reach about 14,000 beds until the end of 2020 across the United Arab Emirates. Today, the health sector in the UAE includes world-class hospitals and health facilities that meet international standards in order to ensure the provision of high-quality services within qualified and safe facilities. Innovation is always the desired goal through the use of modern technologies and innovative solutions. These health facilities also seek to develop infrastructure to provide a safe and patient-friendly environment.
In recent years, a number of hospitals have been established to provide an added value to the health sector through the provision of world-class services that meet the needs of UAE citizens and residents. In addition, the remarkable developments achieved by the existing hospitals in the country have been keen to adopt the best health practices according to global protocols that contributed to upgrading the health system in the country.
Hospitals in the UAE are offering advanced multidisciplinary treatments available only in the world’s largest hospitals. This allowed them to receive international accreditation, in addition to keeping abreast of the rapid developments in the medical sector while utilizing and harnessing global technologies to serve patients.
For the fourth year in a row, the UAE has been ranked first globally for the number of healthcare establishments accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI), the world’s largest health-care accrediting agency. A total of 178 hospitals, medical centres and facilities in the UAE were approved by JCI, accounting for 76 per cent of all hospitals in the UAE. The numbers show that the UAE has surpassed the best healthcare systems in the world, announced the Ministry of Health and Prevention. It is noteworthy that JCI Accreditation follows 14 primary standards, which are then divided into different criteria that cover all patient services received that may be more than 1,300 requirements. These standards include the assessment of the following: patient safety objectives; criteria for admission to hospitals and visit accidents sections; evaluation and diagnosis of patients; application of treatment plan; surgical and anaesthesia procedures; drug administration; patients’ rights; patients’ education standards; senior management and responsibilities; infection control; quality and development; human resources and staff; safety of health facilities and medical equipment; and medical file and health information. These state-of-the-art hospitals help meet patient expectations by providing the best healthcare services, expanding the development of services and providing more time and effort to citizens.
The UAE healthcare sector seeks to regulate and facilitate access to health services. In addition, more than 200 international medical policies have been adopted with the aim to improve health services in hospitals and medical centers accredited by the Ministry of Health. The UAE Government guarantees the patients their rights and obligates them with responsibilities. Patients’ rights and responsibilities are listed in the patient’s charter of rights and responsibilities which are displayed at all clinics and hospitals. Patients can file complaints about improper service or malpractices to the respective health authorities. The healthcare sector also strives to provide distinguished health services to the community in hospitals through the provision of specialized, safe, integrated, evidence-based medical services in accordance with the highest international standards and best practices.
Best Healthcare in the Middle East
The UAE earned the highest regional score on the Middle East Healthcare Access Index compiled by BMI Research, a unit of Fitch group. Patients in the UAE have the best access to healthcare in the Middle East as the country rolls out mandatory medical insurance and harnesses new technology for disease treatment. The report said that advanced healthcare systems and compulsory health insurance in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and the continuous adoption of new technologies in the healthcare system will support the UAE’s position. Innovation in clinical services and the use of new technologies in disease diagnosis and treatment will drive a more patient-centric healthcare system. Spending on healthcare in the Arabian Gulf is projected to grow at an average of 6.6 per cent annually to $104.6 billion (Dh384.2bn) in 2022 from an estimated $76.1bn in 2017, according to a March report by Alpen Capital. An expanding population, high prevalence of non-communicable disease, rising cost of treatment and increasing availability of health insurance are the main factors driving growth. The BMI report found that new technologies including 3D printing, artificial intelligence, advanced robotic surgeries and virtual reality will support disease management and treatment in the UAE.
Innovation and Artificial Intelligence
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is driving the use of AI and machine learning in the healthcare sector to improve clinical decisions, in line with the Dubai Health Strategy 2016-2021 and the UAE Strategy for AI. It is an important step taken by the DHA to keep abreast of the qualitative changes witnessed by the UAE.
DHA launched its Innovation and AI framework, which consists of four main themes that include enriching the culture of innovation within the authority, improving the innovation governance and processes, and the main innovation pillars that will contribute to happier stakeholders.
The strategy consists of main four objectives with 21 initiatives that aim to contribute to the achievement of DHA innovation mission — harnessing creativity and innovation by generating and transforming ideas into reality to deliver value-based and sustainable healthcare services through engaging all partners and stakeholders. The strategy is aligned with Dubai plan 2021, the UAE innovation strategy and the AI strategy. The Innovation and Artificial Intelligence strategy workshop organized by the Department of Health, the regulator of healthcare sector in Abu Dhabi in cooperation with “IBM” was aimed at gathering the healthcare sector to draw a road map for adopting AI in the Emirate’s healthcare sector. It identifies strategic objectives, and discusses how to position Abu Dhabi as an innovation hub in health and to lead the health sector in application of Artificial Intelligence.
The workshop discussed the strategic objectives that help to drive the application of AI in the Emirate’s healthcare sector that include building predictive analytics capabilities to enable evidence-based decision-making, establishing the Abu Dhabi Health Observatory to monitor the health status of the community, artificial Intelligence in patient treatment to support improved diagnostics, exchange of patient’s health information to improve treatment and optimize cost, health education and monitoring to improve the efficiency of the healthcare system, telehealth to improve diagnosis in healthcare facilities and to position Abu Dhabi as an innovation hub in health. The workshop spotted light on enabling of AI application in the Health sector of Abu Dhabi by building partnerships to innovate the application of Artificial Intelligence in the health sector, governance and monitoring, policies and regulations, training and education, healthcare information and develop a comprehensive research network in Abu Dhabi.
AI is defined as ‘simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems and other machines’. This is a form of copying or mimicking of the human to solve complex problems automatically through the power of technology and the computer.
UAE Vision 2021
Providing world-class healthcare is one of the six pillars of the National Agenda in line with Vision 2021. The Government will work in collaboration with all health authorities in the country to have all public and private hospitals accredited according to clear national and international quality standards of medical services and staff.
Furthermore, the National Agenda emphasizes the importance of preventive medicine and seeks to reduce cancer and lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases to ensure a longer, healthier life for citizens. In addition, the Agenda aims to reduce the prevalence of smoking and increase the healthcare system’s readiness to deal with epidemics and health risks. This will result in the UAE becoming among the best countries in the world in terms of quality of healthcare by the year 2021.
The strategy will promote advanced technologies in healthcare services. It will stimulate the growth of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries while also working with strategic partners to support medical research.
Emphasis is also placed on the provision of integrated healthcare for all individuals and increasing capacity. However, at the same time, health sector leaders are seeking to improve the quality of healthcare services, safety standards and patient experience in addition to attracting qualified people to work in the health sector and electronic health data.