Currently, the healthcare industry is undergoing a revolution of sorts thanks to the numerous advancements in surgical robotics, cloud computing, virtual reality (VR) therapies, and the Internet of Things (IoT), among other innovations. Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) won’t be replacing practitioners anytime soon, but will, however, have an instrumental role to play in healthcare delivery.
Shedding light on how digitalisation has provided opportunities to change the traditional way in which healthcare is delivered, and particularly in shaping hospital care, recently, GSD Healthcare (GSD), the Dubai-based company of San Donato Hospital Group, held an event titled “The Hospital of the Future – GCC Healthcare Strategies Towards 2020” that was attended by professionals and key decision makers from the healthcare industry.
The panellists included Dr. Mohammad Abdul Qader Al Redha, Director at Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Abdulrahman Alqhatani, VP for Health System Transformation Ministry of Health Saudi Arabia, and Director, National Emergency Medicine Support Program, Riyadh, Francesco Galli, GSD’s CEO, Maher Abouzeid, President and CEO, Eastern Growth Markets at GE Healthcare, Muthanna Abdul Razzaq, President and CEO of the American University of the Emirates, Dubai, and Verdiana Morando, Head of Education and Consultancy of GSD Healthcare.
At the event, these decision makers shared their views, strategies and solutions that are being implemented to shape the future of hospital care. Dr. Al Redha highlighted how the programme planning committee of the DHA is looking ahead today at what will be the medical workforce of the next 50 years. He expressed that the new generation won’t be interested in being hospital bound. In the near future, he sees procedures, such as getting a stent, being done in a shopping mall.
“Life is moving online and the convenience of not going out of the way is catching up in healthcare. There needs to be a rethink in the way hospitals are designed in order to pave the way for more accessible facilities. The focus in the future will surely be on beautiful designs, art, wellness, and natural features, and not just marble and granite. However, hospitals are still a valid investment and the DHA will meet this demand, with a difference. The emphasis going forward should be on the redesign of hospitals and well as redesigning prevention schemes,” he said.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s healthcare sector is undergoing a massive transformation. Alqhatani said that there is rising effort being put to get treatment or procedures done outside of hospitals, along with investing in activities such as telemedicine. The country is also reimagining the way in which its healthcare workers need to be trained in order to avoid building new hospitals, and is also looking at updating the curriculum in universities in order to incorporate the latest advancements.
He highlighted: “Currently, we have 300 hospitals, 40,000 beds, 75 billion Riyal budget for Ministry of Health, and 270,000 employees, and want to build an integrated healthcare system. We are looking at ways to engage the community, the private healthcare sector, and train healthcare workers in different specialities.”
As technology advances and the healthcare industry moves toward more outpatient procedures, such as telemedicine and self-monitoring, prevention should be promoted today so that in the future patients will only go to hospitals for complicated surgeries and emergencies.
According to Abouzeid, patient experience is of the utmost importance and customers have to be at the centre of healthcare delivery. He stressed that the power of big data, precision health and medicine are changing the dynamic of the industry. In fact, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are leading the way in this transformation as they realise that the public sector needs to be a regulator, not an operator. These governments are now looking at seamlessly working with the private sector and introducing new technologies that will allow them to work faster and efficiently.
“In the future, doctors should be there to just double check on the patient. The hospital of the future would most likely be an “empty hospital” or a space that will be used only for emergency cases. Early prevention is a key for this goal and health tech should be increasingly applied as it helps to reduce the costs, and diagnoses at an early stage, thereby increasing survival rate,” he concluded.
At the event, Galli displayed GSD’s plans for its very own hospital of the future – the new IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi, which is being revamped at the moment and will be ready within three years. The state-of-the-art hospital will be surrounded by green space, will be extremely connected to different services, and will be spread across 150,000 square metres over 16 floors.
“For us, the Galeazzi Hospital is the hospital of the future. It merges research, university and clinical practice. It will feature a hub-and-spoke-model in which the point of care is guaranteed by continuous data sharing between hospitals, and will incorporate big data and robotics in its practice. Last but not the least, it will establish patient happiness as a culture,” he added.