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Investment opportunities in the healthcare sector in Dubai

Article-Investment opportunities in the healthcare sector in Dubai

image of Ibtesam Bastaki
The Dubai Health Authority’s health investment strategy 2017-2020 focuses on the numerous investment opportunities in the healthcare sector to provide medical care according to global best practices, while attracting investors to contribute to the development of health services in primary care, chronic diseases, and specialised centres for the treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, among others.

With the launch of its health investment strategy 2017-2020, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) aims to promote Dubai as a viable and competitive hub for need-based investment in healthcare. As Dubai’s healthcare sector offers significant opportunities for investors, the strategy also aims to guide and support them to build sustainable public-private partnership models in healthcare in Dubai.

However, in recent years, the healthcare providers’ landscape has changed significantly, leading to an overcapacity for certain services. So, the question really is: how will this service add value and will it prevent health investment in already saturated spaces?

“Absolutely, it will,” says Dr Ibtesam Bastaki, Director of Investment and Partnership at the DHA. “While it is a fact that some services and catchments have sufficient supply, or some are crowded and pose a risk for overcapacity, there are gaps in a number of specialities and services. Innovations in primary care models, centres of excellence in certain specialities, home-based care and rehabilitation services are key areas of investment potential.”

She added that the healthcare sector in Dubai has been growing driven by the population rise and an increase in private health infrastructure. “If you compare global estimates and look at the manner in which the population of the Emirate is rising, by 2025, at the current rate, we can expect a gap in in-patient beds, in price-positioning and in specialities. Therefore, there certainly is potential and our aim is to foster and promote health investment in areas where there are lack of services or where there are opportunities for growth,” says Dr Bastaki.

“Several countries have dedicated healthcare investment promotion agencies and frankly it is a better and more efficient way to operate. It is a win-win situation for the investor and the health sector, and patients benefit the most because it prevents oversupply, leads to availability of health specialists across various disciplines and fosters the growth and development of specialised and super-specialised health services,” she explains.

According to Dr Bastaki, the health investment strategy 2017-2020 was developed after conducting a need-based analysis and after extensive stakeholder consultations on the current healthcare investment landscape with more than 40 interviews conducted with senior leaders from both the public and private sectors.

Dr Bastaki adds that the manner and type of care needed is also changing drastically due to a number of factors, creating opportunities along the way for companies that are quick to adapt to this change.

“Rise in ageing population, rising prevalence and risk factors for chronic diseases, and changes in technology and new innovations in the delivery of care are factors that will change the global healthcare landscape in the next decade,” she opines.

“To keep up with these changes and provide patient-centric care with regular monitoring and follow-up from the comfort of the patient’s home, I expect that there would be significant growth in remote patient monitoring and coordinated care delivered through telehealth platforms and solutions,” explains Dr Bastaki. “This presents a huge opportunity for Information Technology (IT) healthcare firms to dive into the market and provide solutions that will cut costs, lead to closer follow-up and care particularly for the elderly or need-based patients that find it inconvenient to travel to clinics regularly. Of course, there are certain stringent criteria such as quality of care the technology will provide, its efficiency, ease of use, etc., but the point is that there is enough and more opportunity.”

In terms of traditional clinic-based services, she says, “Certainly, primary healthcare is a priority focus especially for regular preventive screening and early detection or as a first point-of-contact for medical cases that are not critical, and also for regular follow-up and care. There is a huge opportunity in that speciality particularly as we aim to continue enhancing the specialities we offer through the primary healthcare centres. A lot of the care that is being delivered in hospitals today will shift to an outpatient setting – leading to the growth of ambulatory care where a lot of procedures can be done in a day care setting and home-based care. Over the next few years, we can expect to see further streamlined care and continuum of care starting with primary healthcare right up till home-based care using the latest healthcare technology.”

According to Ahmed Faiyaz Sait , Advisor, Investments & PPPs at Dubai Health Authority, “There will be more of a higher demand for one-stop-shop clinics and medical centres for specialised services like orthopaedics and diabetes and this is currently the trend in the emirate. The main driver of this change will be bringing a multi-disciplinary approach and deep clinical expertise to work on a particular disease or condition that improves and delivers better outcomes. There is more to be done on how care delivered at specialised centres is integrated with primary care and home-based healthcare (remote patient monitoring) and we hope to see such care innovation taking place soon. The DHA has clearly laid out the areas of focus over the next two to five years and the department is keen on providing the dedicated investment promotion and facilitation efforts to support priority investments in Dubai.”

DHA’s investment focus for the next 2 to 3 years

Innovations in primary care
Ambulatory care
Urgent care clinics
Mental Health
Chronic Disease Management
Tertiary Care for diabetes, cardiology and oncology
Diagnostic Health and Remote Monitoring
Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
Home-based care
Long-term and extended care

DHA’s investment focus for the next 3 to 5 years
Prevention and Pharmacy beyond-the-pill
Precision Medicine and Genetics
Population Health Management
Nursing Homes and Palliative Care

DHA’s support for investors and healthcare providers

  • Provide real time information on demand for services, supply and capacity gaps
  • Support and advise on investment mandates, and on green field investments exceeding AED 100 million initial investment
  • Facilitate discussions with other DHA stakeholders and Dubai government stakeholders on sizeable investment mandates
  • Facilitate priority investments and offer commercial incentives for priority investments through Certificate of Need policies
  • Stakeholder workshops on enabling policy change to enable priority investments
  • Oversee, develop and manage PPP process for partnerships with DHA for priority services / identified projects

“Innovations in primary care models, centres of excellence in certain specialities, home-based care and rehabilitation services are key areas of investment potential.”

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