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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 January 2019

Rating hospitals is a healthy move

Five-star health facilities will encourage medical tourism and improve overall standards
Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Centre at Dubai Health Care City. Jaime Puebla / The National
Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Centre at Dubai Health Care City. Jaime Puebla / The National

There has always been a high level of healthy competition between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so it’s appropriate that the health industry is the latest area where the two most populous emirates are going head to head. The Dubai Health Authority has announced that it will introduce a hotel-style ratings system for hospitals similar to that already in existence in the capital.

The aim is two-fold: to improve patient choices and bolster the lucrative medical tourism market. But the two emirates will not just be competing with each other for overseas clientele. According to advisory group Patients Without Borders, 8 million people travel abroad for medical and dental treatment each year, and the industry is worth as much as $40 billion (Dh147bn) annually. There are low-cost destinations – hospitals in Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and India offer treatment at less than one-tenth of the price in the US and Europe. And then there are the high-end ones, which is where many facilities in the UAE wish to place themselves.

This is the point at which internationally recognised ratings become important. Hospitals will be keen to demonstrate excellence in terms of successful patient outcomes, hygiene, infection control and overall standard of care. If the UAE is seen as a destination for quality medical services, the catchment area for our hospitals will grow beyond the country’s borders. And with more potential patients, hospitals will be able to afford to offer a greater range of services and use the latest equipment and treatment protocols. All of this will benefit local patients just as much as medical tourists.

Of course, the challenge will be to ensure that hospitals are properly equipped, not just with the latest technology but with suitably qualified professional staff. To offer superior service, hospitals must be able to attract world-class specialists, even if only on a visiting basis. The proper investment in people will make a difference, not just at the five-star hospitals, but throughout the system. This would provide a healthy boost to both our economy and our well-being.

Updated: July 21, 2017 06:47 PM

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