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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Better communication between doctors and patients needed, experts tell Abu Dhabi health summit

UAE also seeing rise in medical tourists, with more than 28,000 extra patients visiting Dubai hospitals from abroad last year 2016

Nishoo Ghosh from Dubai Health Authority at the 1st GCC Patient Experience Summit. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Nishoo Ghosh from Dubai Health Authority at the 1st GCC Patient Experience Summit. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Transparency and improved communication between patient and doctor is key in improving a hospital stay, said health administrators at an Abu Dhabi summit on patient experience.

Doctors said the majority of complaints fielded, about 85 per cent, were a result of poor communication rather than issues relating to specific care or safety concerns.

Hospitals and clinics operating under the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) have taken steps to improve that communication by opening a patient portal, giving them access to care updates.

It has been a successful development according to Dr Gregory Raglow, corporate health informatics director at Seha.

“The technology available now can help with hospital system improvements and positively develop the patient experience,” he said.

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“An online portal helps reassure patients by offering daily contact with their physician, and their entire healthcare team.

“Releasing our medical records to this portal helps them understand exactly what doctors are thinking, and they can correct any errors that may be in the directory.

“That helps them to take better care of themselves also.”

Patient portals also offer feedback to doctors with the aim of improving patient experience.

Those receiving care are sent daily inspirational messages and tips to improve their lifestyle to promote good health.

“Most health systems with an electronic medical record system have seen an increase in satisfaction amongst staff too,” said Dr Raglow.

“They feel more confident with the communication process that helps determine good care.

“We are becoming more and more transparent in the documents we give to patients, so they are more engaged.”

Medical tourism continues to boom in the UAE, with Dubai attracting more than 28,000 extra overseas visitors in 2016.

Ramon Peñas Jr / The National
Ramon Peñas Jr / The National

That success must be built on safety, integrity and quality to offer patients the best possible experience, doctors said.

Hospitals in Dubai saw overseas visitor numbers rise from 298,359 in 2015 to 326,649 last year.

“The most important aspect for tourists is safety,” said Nishoo Ghosh, principal administrative officer with the Dubai health tourism council.

“We are combining the experiences of the tourist and patient for their journey through Dubai.

“There is a large talent pool of medical professional in Dubai, which is attractive for patients who want to travel to the UAE for their healthcare.”

Popular procedures for tourists in 2016 were orthopaedics and sports medicine, plastic surgery, ophthalmology, dentistry, dermatology and skin care, fertility treatments as well as wellness and preventative health check-ups.

Dubai hopes to swell its annual overseas medical visitors to 500,000 by 2020.

Many hospitals now provide comprehensive medical tourism packages in a bid to capitalize on the growing industry.

“The range of specialties offered here are a major come for many medical tourists,” said Dr Jamil Ahmed, MD of the Prime Healthcare Group.

“They want renowned and trustworthy doctors in the fields of obstetrics and gynaecology, cardiology, general diagnostics, and neurosurgery.

“Strong government support is well in place to position the emirate as a globally recognized destination for health and wellness treatments.”

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