x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Dubai hospitals overhaul to tackle gaps in care

All public and private facilities in Dubai to implement measures that include keeping health records and providing disabled-friendly access.

DUBAI // Regulations designed to standardise care across public and private hospitals for the first time in the emirate were revealed yesterday at the Middle East's largest healthcare exhibition and medical congress.

The procedures aim to close any gaps between the public and private sectors as part of efforts to improve standards across the board, Dubai Health Authority officials said.

The strategy was unveiled at the opening day of the Arab Health exhibition in Dubai and is two years in the making, said Dr Mohammed Oussama Kayali, head of the health regulation section of the DHA's health regulation department.

The lack of standardised practices for the keeping of health records were part of "the reason there were many gaps, which we will try to improve to align with international accreditation standards", he said.

The policies, which are yet to be finalised, will focus on three areas: the design and construction of health facilities, health records, and dental protection to prevent infection. Design guidelines include the requirements that medical facilities must have adequate car parks and slip-resistant surfaces to stairs as well as being disabled-friendly.

"In 2007, we regulated the private sector. We developed standards that [filled] only one document, and they were for healthcare professionals and buildings. Later, DHA decided to regulate all government and private facilities, so we reviewed our regulations," Dr Kayali said.

All healthcare facilities in the emirate - expect for those belonging to Dubai Healthcare City Authority - will have to introduce the new measures. The grace period in which facilities must comply will not be announced for several more weeks, said Dr Kayali.

Some of the changes will affect the process by which hospitals get licensed, clinical standards, the way in which patients are treated and handled and the quality of diagnostic care, he said. The regulatory updates are for hospitals, day care surgical centres, outpatients, diagnostic imaging, clinical laboratories and home health care.

The shake-up will help facilities in the emirate move in line with global changes in health care, said Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, the director general of the DHA.

"Updating the regulatory policies and guidelines for all facilities in the emirate will ensure that facilities can cope with the present evolution in medicine," he said. "Moreover, it will ensure that we incorporate the rapid developments in medicine that have taken place across the world."

The DHA is now working with hospitals to make sure the new guidelines will be possible to implement before the process begins.

"The update is presently in the draft stages and is up for consultation so that we can receive any further feedback from the health sector," said Dr Ramadan Ibrahim, director of health regulation at the authority.

"The health sector has been closely involved from the beginning of the project and this is the last stage before we shortly announce the finalisation of these regulatory policies and guidelines."

Hospitals will also be audited as part of the authority's efforts to discover where gaps lie.

"We told them there will be a checklist based on these standards. This checklist will evaluate the facility and [reveal] the need for requirement of the regulations based on their deficiencies," said Dr Kayali.

Although the deadline period has yet to be announced, hospitals will have an adequate amount of time to make their changes, he added.