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Progressing world-class healthcare in the Middle East: What does the Hospital of the Future look like?

Harjinder Kang

By Harjinder Kang

Director Healthcare UK, Life Sciences & Bio Economy Department for International Trade

One thing we can be certain of is that healthcare is here to stay. Every person in the population will, at some point, make use of the healthcare system. As populations and life expectancies continue to grow so too do complex, chronic conditions and the pressure on

healthcare systems to be able to respond appropriately and sustainably. In 2015, more than half of all deaths in the GCC were caused by non-communicable diseases.

Detecting health issues before they require care is becoming a priority for healthcare systems around the world, with eyes turning towards technological innovation to help achieve that.  And the economic burden this is having on governments should not be underestimated.   Healthcare expenditure in the GCC is projected to reach $104.6 billion in 2022 from $76.1 billion in 2017.

In the Middle East, the healthcare sector is experiencing rapid development. A readiness to forge partnerships with leading healthcare institutions around the world, along with a willingness to adopt new ideas and bring them to fruition, is paying dividends. 

The bold programmes of healthcare development underway in the region are facilitating and leveraging new partnerships with UK healthcare organisations and providers. After all, where better to come for support in developing a healthcare system than the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Since its inception in 1948, the NHS has ensured universal access to high-quality healthcare, based on clinical need and not ability to pay.

It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Through necessity, the UK has created and maintained the world’s best healthcare system, as recently ranked by the Commonwealth Fund. Over the 70-year history of the NHS, significant economic and population health challenges have necessitated incredible innovation

in order to maintain free, universal, high-quality healthcare at the point of need. As an established global healthcare leader, the NHS continues its commitment to innovation today, providing for evolving healthcare needs as populations age, long-term conditions grow, the cost of care increases and the role of technology develops.

The challenges faced today by the Middle East — in developing a universal, sustainable healthcare system — are the same challenges the NHS has been using its decades of experience to address in the UK. For good reason, NHS expertise is in demand all over the world. So, what is the ‘Hospital of the Future’ and what does it mean for healthcare in the Middle East?

Put simply, the ‘Hospital of the Future’ is a framework for delivering a system of integrated care that is fit for the future. Harnessing the UK’s unrivalled experience in transforming healthcare from a ‘buildings-based’ system of hospitals, to a ‘person-centred’ system of care, the ‘Hospital of the Future’ uses intelligent design, pioneering technologies and advanced clinical services to improve outcomes, reduce costs and prioritise prevention.

The ‘Hospital of the Future’ is a hub of innovation that can meet the evolving needs of its community. Using technology to push care beyond the four walls of one hospital, it connects multi-site systems to work as one, it connects people to their own remote care and enables integrated care to be delivered at a system level.

It builds on the UK’s unrivalled experience in innovating to deliver integrated care, taking the very best components from the NHS that can be implemented at a system or individual supplier level. The ‘Hospital of the Future’, designed by Healthcare UK and underpinned by UK healthcare providers, specifically the NHS, can bring to life the Middle East’s aspirations to create not just a sustainable healthcare system but one that delivers a truly exceptional experience.

For example, the UAE has created mandatory health insurance facilitating universal access to quality healthcare for its residents, with pockets of excellence in care already emerging. With the foundations now being laid, how can the UAE now develop its healthcare system to support the long-term ambitions of its transformative Vision 2021 programme, to strengthen its global reputation and develop an economy less dependent on oil?

The ‘Hospital of the Future’ offers a platform from which to deliver the core component of healthcare that all national systems can agree on — prevention and early detection and treatment of ill health.

The Moorfields Eye Hospital centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are primary examples of developing world-leading treatments and care, based on Moorfields London expertise.

This particular model for collaboration has provided benefits to both organisations, delivering more than 1,500 complex operations in two years, in rare and specialised ophthalmic services, which are specific to the UAE region.  This partnership has provided the opportunity to transform the diagnosis and treatment of eye care.

The Hospital of the Future’ offers a vision from which to deliver the core component of healthcare that all national systems can agree on — prevention and early detection and treatment of ill health.