x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai set to get 15 budget clinics

Dubai-based DM Healthcare will roll out a new line of clinics for UAE's low income residents in the next three months.

Like its Aster-branded clinics, DM Healthcare says its new budget clinics may eventually get their own dispensaries. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Like its Aster-branded clinics, DM Healthcare says its new budget clinics may eventually get their own dispensaries. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DM Healthcare Group plans to roll out a new brand of budget clinics in three months aimed at lower income patients.

The group, based in Dubai, aims to launch 15 clinics in the UAE by the end of the year. Of these, about five are likely to be converted from existing clinics, while 10 others would be newly constructed, said Dr Azad Moopen, the chairman of DM Healthcare Group.

The clinics will be located in industrial as well as non-industrial areas across the Emirates, including Bur Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman.

While Dr Moopen declined to comment on how much investment would be needed for the project, he said the budget clinics would take two to three years to break even.

DM Healthcare's largest external investor is Olympus Capital Asia Investments, a middle-market private equity firm, which acquired a minority stake in the healthcare company for about US$100 million (Dh367.2m) in January. The majority stake remains with Dr Moopen.

Annual revenues at DM Healthcare are worth some $237m, according to Olympus Capital, which disclosed the value during the sale of the stake.

The group's investment in the country is among a number of health infrastructure projects ongoing in the region.

GCC governments are forecast to spend close to $55 billion by 2020 in the healthcare sector, according to a report by Kuwait Finance House Research.

In the UAE, the sector is projected to grow to$11.9bn in 2015, according to a report by the British government's trade and investment department.

DM Healthcare plans to build 12 hospitals in the GCC region by 2015, including the UAE.

At its new line of budget clinics, per-patient-cost for insurance companies would be low, said Dr Moopen, who added that co-pays, or out-of-pocket expenses for the insured person, would be "10 per cent of what they are paying elsewhere." Co-pays in Dubai can vary from about Dh50 to Dh100.

While many Aster-branded clinics, which is also owned by DM Healthcare,have pharmacies attached, the new line of budget clinics initially will not. "But [we] would like [them] to have their own pharmacies or pharmacies of other companies nearby," Dr Moopen said.

Since some existing clinics will be converted into the budget clinics, recruitment of doctors and nurses will not be an issue, he said. "Recruitment is an ongoing process."

However, one challenge these clinics will face is getting licences for general practitioners, Dr Moopen said. "Such clinics in industrial areas need more general practitioners than specialists," he said.

According to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), a general practitioner can treat patients only in general clinics located in industrial areas such as the Al Quoz Industrial Area, schools, hotels or rural and remote areas. Other types of clinics authorised by DHA include specialist centres and polyclinics.

DM Healthcare has some eight clinics located in industrial areas.

By 2015, it plans to invest about $120m in Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to build hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in these countries.

It expects to invest $90m in the UAE in the coming year but details were not immediately available.

It is building an Aster hospital in Mankhool area in Dubai. The company is also setting up new Aster clinics in the UAE.

According to the group's website, its current investment adds up to $50m in the UAE.

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