x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Ratings to prepare for medical tourism bid

Ministry of Health introduces system for hospitals and doctors to encourage medical tourism in the UAE.

ABU DHABI // Doctors and hospitals are to be given performance ratings as part of plans to make the UAE a destination for medical tourists. The Ministry of Health announced the ratings system will be based on stars similar to those awarded to hotels, enabling people to see which professionals or clinics rate highest or provide the best treatment for particular procedures or operations. The results will be displayed online.

Private hospitals and clinics will be included along with government hospitals. The ministry, which has responsibility for the northern Emirates, will link up with health authorities and tourism bodies from other emirates. Although the ratings are intended primarily for people wishing to travel from abroad for medical services, Emiratis and expatriates will also be able to take advantage of the site.

Medical tourism is one of the world's fastest-growing travel markets estimated to be worth US$40 billion (Dh147bn) within two years. More than 11 million tourists seeking medical treatment will visit the UAE between now and 2010, according to Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The website displaying the ratings "will show people where to go to get a good doctor. It will say things like which hospital is best for things like kidney disease and will give a ranking, by numbers", said Nasser al Budoor, the assistant undersecretary of international relations and health affairs at the Ministry of Health. "Anyone can look at the website and look at five star, seven star, two star, similar to a hotel. "We will go through more detail on our website. People don't want to call. They want to see which hospitals are good, which doctors and to see their picture." There was no indication of what criteria would be tested in the scheme. Luiz Toledo, a doctor at the International Modern Hospital in Dubai, said he welcomed the plan, but only if it were implemented correctly. "It's a good idea, but it depends on how it's done. Who is going to determine the rating? Hospitals are already accredited by international organisations, so what will the new standards be?" amcmeans@thenational.ae