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Collaborating for excellent patient care

The SEHA-Mayo Clinic alliance will be in the spotlight at Arab Health 2020.

For the first time, Arab Health is hosting ‘From Prevention to Innovation: A SEHA-Mayo Clinic Collaboration’, a new addition to this year’s much-anticipated event. The conference, which will offer 13.75 CME credits, will highlight the relationship between the two institutions and cover topics from prevention of disease to recent innovations in the care of the complex patient, with the added value of artificial intelligence (AI) and connected care. It will feature prominent speakers from SEHA who will open each session, followed by Mayo’s perspective on each of those topics presented by Mayo Clinic experts in those fields.

Ahead of the show, Omnia Health Magazine caught up with Dr. Gareth Goodier, Group CEO SEHA, to find out more about the collaboration between the two entities. He said: “2020 is a special and exciting year for SEHA. We have had a number of game-changing announcements recently, which will improve and change the quality of health services in Abu Dhabi. Arab Health 2020 will be unique for us because of our new venture with the Mayo Clinic. We are putting on a medical conference within Arab Health and will have some excellent speakers coming in from Mayo Clinic.”

These latest developments include the opening of the Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), which is a joint venture agreement with Mayo Clinic. Moreover, the Mohammed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) and a comprehensive genomics program, were also recently announced.

Innovation cluster

Dr. Goodier highlighted that the relationship between SEHA and Mayo Clinic is that of a joint venture and not just an operating contract. “By its very nature this means that this is a strategic partnership that is long-term,” he said. “The ambition of both parties is to establish a destination medical center, equivalent to Mayo Clinic, Rochester, in the next five to six years. The ambition is huge.”

Mayo Clinic has successfully established its outposts in Arizona and Florida, which took them well over 10 years to get it to Rochester levels, the CEO shared. “They feel they have learnt from those experiences and can, therefore, short circuit the timeframe. This won’t happen overnight but the commitment from both parties is to raise the level of healthcare services in the UAE so that there is no need to travel overseas for healthcare provision. More than that, the goal for it is to become a hub not only for the GCC but also possibly a much broader community for the MENA.”

He stressed that the aim is to develop SSMC as a biomedical innovation cluster, so it can become a true innovation cluster, centered around excellent patient care. The objective is to not only attract medical tourists but also work with universities in the UAE to develop biomedically related intellectual property, which can be commercially developed.

Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City’s CEO, who joined from Mayo Clinic, Dr. Naser Ammash, said: “The collaboration between Mayo Clinic and SEHA was formed on a shared goal – advancing excellence in healthcare and meeting the complex needs of patients across the globe. We are building on SEHA’s legacy for excellence by incorporating Mayo Clinic knowledge and expertise to enable enhanced quality of care and patient experience. By bringing the Mayo Clinic model of care to the region, we will also have the opportunity to attract the best healthcare talent to Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City while also developing local expertise.”

Digital transformation

When asked about the emerging trends being seen in the healthcare industry, Dr. Goodier said that automation has a key role to play, as it takes some of the routine work from humans. “In pharmacy, we have robots that are relying on barcodes to deliver the right medication to the right patient at the right time. Similarly, AI is being applied to routine chest X-rays and CT scans and so on. All of the evidence these days is that latest AI in very routine cases is as good as, if not better, than humans. It can’t replace doctors but provides a baseline to which humans can add value. We are currently out for tender for AI to be applied to our radiology systems, where it is appropriate and has been proven to add value. In SSMC and the new Al Ain Hospital, which will be opened in 2021, we will have robotic pharmacies.”

Another exciting trend the CEO emphasized on was the prospect of a personalized approach to healthcare, particularly for Emiratis. He explained: “Most of the clinical trials on medications are conducted in Europe, America, Australia or China. We do not fully understand what differences this local population has in terms of genomics. Therefore, the announcement of the MBZUAI and the genomics program will ultimately lead down to the path of personalized healthcare across the board.”

He said that such initiatives would lead to a much better understanding of the morbidity and the disease patterns that exist in the local community. “We all know that there is a high-level of diabetes and renal disease and we need to do local research to better understand that so we can adopt lifestyle changes and if needed adopt therapies to keep people healthy,” he concluded.

TAGS: Leadership
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