Dubai hospitals to be rated like hotels
DUBAI // Hospitals will be given ratings similar to those used for hotels in a system due to be introduced within two years.
The Dubai Health Authority website will carry details of each hospital’s performance, compared with international standards.
Health chiefs hope it will further advance services and improve patients’ choices, while bolstering the growing medical tourism market.
Dr Layla Al Marzouqi, DHA director of health regulation and the medical tourism initiative, said the ratings system would bring transparency and help to improve medical services.
“Hospitals will be graded in a similar way to hotels and the information will be a public record and available on the DHA website,” Dr Al Marzouqi said.
“That information will be available to patients so they can make an informed choice of where they go for their treatment.”
Factors will include how many successful operations have been performed, any breaches at the hospital, overall performance and the experience of doctors, whose qualifications will be publicly available.
Other factors to be made available will be equipment quality, the outcome of audits, patient experience – such as availability of translators – and ambience.
Once the ranking system is in place, it is hoped hospital services will be comparable to or better than standards elsewhere in the world.
Incentives could also be offered for hospitals that provide new services that are in demand.
“All criteria will be assessed so we will get an accurate picture of the quality of services being offered and where improvements can be made,” Dr Al Marzouqi said.
“In areas that may be in demand but less profitable, such as child psychiatry, we are also considering the possibility of incentives such as cheaper facilities or reduced licensing rates to encourage more practitioners to establish new services.
“Overall, a regular annual assessment of health services in demand will help us to monitor what is needed here to improve the quality of health care.”
Regular random checks are already carried out at healthcare centres across Dubai.
The medical tourism project was launched in April 2012 – the start of an ambitious plan to make Dubai the top destination in the region, and among the top 10 worldwide.
Riaz Khan, general manager of Prime Hospital in Garhoud, which is involved in the project, said an internationally recognised ratings system would be good for patients and hospitals.
“Markets that have this kind of system, which covers many factors of health care, already in place have seen the benefit already,” Dr Khan said.
“Without it, hospitals can promise a quality of service that they may not be able to deliver on. Performance data available on a public website will hopefully stop that from happening.”
In Abu Dhabi, a comprehensive system of ranking medical centres based on criteria such as hygiene, infection control and quality of care has been in place since 2012.
Public hospitals managed by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, or Seha, also have a system of anonymous reporting of medical incidents to improve patient safety.
“I think it is very difficult to rate quality in health care,” said Dr Humeira Badsha, an American board certified internal medicine and rheumatology specialist in Dubai.
“Many standards have been implemented across the world but usually hospitals are judged not only by reputation, but also by measurable targets, such as mortality rate for various conditions, success of operations and readmissions.
“All these targets are complex and ever-changing, so the process of rating health care should be well thought out and planned.”
Dr Dimitrios Ziakas, a hair transplant specialist in Dubai, said it could be difficult to give an overall reflection of a hospital’s quality.
“For the hotels, the standards are very easy to be set and measured. For hospitals things are much more complicated,” he said.
“Within each clinic there are various departments which have different standards. How do you compare the achievements of a heart surgeon to the ones of an orthopaedic surgeon?
“However, it has been done in other fields successfully, so with proper planning it can be applied to medical field, too.”
Updated: March 28, 2015 04:00 AM