The following was originally published in the October 2019 special print edition of Medical Tourism Magazine, which was initially available at the 12th annual World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress in Abu Dhabi.
In 2018, medical tourism in the UAE grew by 5.5% year-on-year and reached Dh12.1 billion. The growth was supported by several government-led initiatives, as well as the increasing number of medical tourists in the country. Sure enough, the Department of Health—Abu Dhabi (DoH) is expending every effort to ensure delivering quality healthcare and yet make the process financially sustainable, which can be accessed by all.
In line with international best practices, DoH employed models that have a track record of success globally. One of these models was a set of new standards for primary healthcare providers.
Since the beginning of 2018, the directive aims to foster better relationship between patients and their family physician. Primary Care is a locally provided patient centric model of care that will reduce the burden on the healthcare system and make it more accessible and efficient.
Another advantage of Primary Care is that it reduces diagnosis time, since the family healthcare providers are already familiar with the medical history of their patients. This improves the quality of patient centric healthcare and reduces the risk of unnecessary treatment and diagnostics. The Department continues to license more primary care centers, which will become every patient’s first stop to receive comprehensive, reliable and, importantly, more personalized medical treatment. Overall, the system is designed to provide the residents with the highest quality of care, in the most efficient and convenient manner.
Another move by the Abu Dhabi government that’s transforming the healthcare sector in the emirate is the standard requirements for Emergency Departments at hospitals. As part of the directive, DoH has categorized emergency departments into two distinct departments: Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centers. The Department has licensed so far eight Emergency Departments and 48 Urgent Care Centers in public and private health care providers across the emirate as per the new standard. With this standard in place healthcare facilities can handle patients in a more efficient manner and enables them to priorities where their efforts are most needed.
DoH has put these measures in place to ensure patients have access to better-designed Emergency Departments that meet their medical needs efficiently and to deliver better results. The Emergency Department is responsible for providing treating patients with life-threatening or acute conditions, while other less serious emergencies can be addressed by the Urgent Care Centers, thereby reducing the burden on Emergency Departments and enabling them to deliver better quality care at the right time.
Needless to say, all these facilities are available around the clock and the Emergency Departments are led by qualified emergency physicians and are supported by a full team of specialists 24/7.
Meanwhile, Urgent Care Centers provide initial check-up, diagnose and treat or refer the patients to the right specialist if needed. These services are available 24/7 and deal with patients with illnesses and minor injuries on a walk-in basis. Moves like the aforementioned have helped modernize the healthcare system in Abu Dhabi, making it more efficient and more accessible to residents and citizens, while ensuring those who need emergency care receive it in the right place, with the right staff to get the highest possible quality.
Thanks to its world-class facilities and efficient practices, these are just some of the steps to optimizing healthcare in Abu Dhabi as the emirate gears up for greater influx of medical tourists. Furthermore, in line with Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 and as part of the Quality framework (JAWDA) program, Abu Dhabi is bringing together key players in tourism, transport, immigration and healthcare to offer an unprecedented seamless high-quality specialized healthcare product to international patients.
In fact, the DoH is working closely with the Department of Culture and Tourism—Abu Dhabi (DCT) to create a network of service providers to build a comprehensive system to attract and meet international patients’ requirements, utilizing existing local expertise and capacity in healthcare and infrastructure in Abu Dhabi. Overall, the DoH is on course to not only provide efficient healthcare for the residents and citizens of the emirate, but also to those visiting in search of quality medical services.