Healthcare and healthcare management are going through a rapid transformation. Many emerging technologies will make the current way of working obsolete in the next few years, and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic is still reverberating across the healthcare industry.
With a projected global recession and economic downturn, the financial outlook for most healthcare providers remains poor with even the top healthcare institutions reporting either drop in patient numbers or humongous losses. All these external factors make it ripe for fostering innovation, developing new models of healthcare delivery and allowing us rethink how we deliver care.
In addition, this provides a great opportunity for personal career growth if one is able to navigate the coming tsunami of change which will be either enforced by the regulators, insurance providers, and government payers.
If we study other sectors of the economy and the institutions that had to adapt to the change that was enforced on them via the advent of big tech companies, they have a common thread. These institutions adopted a data-centric approach and they were agile enough to adopt the latest technologies, bringing about radical changes in processes and mindsets to surmount challenges to continue to thrive.Dr. Siddiq Anwar, Consultant Nephrologist and Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), Abu Dhabi
One of the reasons healthcare in general and healthcare technologies have not progressed with time is the safety-first culture in healthcare and regulations that have been developed to ensure patients do not come to harm. This historically has led to slow and incremental progress that has meant a clinician or a healthcare professional would not see much change in their career lifetime. Hence it was encouraged to acquire one skill and they could afford to practice this one skill till they retire
Transforming healthcare has been a big challenge with many of the big tech companies’ efforts mostly focused on monetising healthcare data via wearables or focusing on developing cloud based AI solutions and technologies.
One of the major limiting factors for transformation is the legacy processes in healthcare which are to ensure continuity, less need for retraining, and hence less risk of patient harm.
Designing the framework
The success we have had transforming care has been creating a framework from locally sourced talent and minds to help create an environment for change. As all the critical patient care processes were linked to the legacy systems, it was important to engage key stake holders, create a collaborative work environment and create an effective team that coalesces around a common mission. In my talk at Arab Health, I shared some use cases on how we transformed end stage renal care in SEHA, with Abu Dhabi Health Services Company bringing hundreds of millions of offline transactions online creating value and cost savings for the government of Abu Dhabi.
Building a data-centric culture
To overcome the challenge of dealing with archaic legacy systems and thinking, the key is to shift to data-centric thinking. This involves a data improvement plan by engaging the end users, an end user-led digital transformation, and realising the value through data-driven insights.
One such example of the end-to-end digital transformation of the in-hospital acute kidney injury management pipeline leading to growth and value creation is Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), which won multiple national and international awards. This has led to the creation of the first POCUS academy in the Middle East region and the development of a regional centre of excellence for Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy in partnership with Baxter International at SSMC. These successes helped create a data-centric culture diffusing best practices in other domains and turning other high-value projects into high-velocity projects.
Developing workforce for the Future of Work
Innovation has been the dominant source of productivity gains over centuries. Healthcare delivery has become increasingly complex and technology driven. This means we must train the current and future workforce to be agile, digital first, data-centric, and ready to embrace change to become change makers. It also means creating a culture at work to ensure innovation remains a way of life.
Looking at details of the innovation and entrepreneurship track we created at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), we helped our learners and early-stage career physicians adapt and exploit the rapidly changing technologies to improve patient care. This also included creating a learning environment and ecosystem to foster interdisciplinary collaborations to solve complex medical problems to improve bedside clinical care. I will be sharing some examples of the work underway at SSMC where we have embraced new technologies and AI solutions to improve patient care.
With a rapidly transforming healthcare sector, creating state of healthcare infrastructure, forward-thinking medical and academic institutions and friendly policies to drive innovation, the UAE has created a fertile ground to foster innovation and advance healthcare.
This Arab Health 2023 is coming at the right time with huge latent energy to propel and transform healthcare. I look forward to meeting other healthcare leaders at upcoming events to learning from their experiences and develop fruitful collaborations to improve patient care and create growth and opportunities for everyone.
Dr. Siddiq Anwar is the Consultant Nephrologist and Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), Abu Dhabi. He will be speaking at the Quality Management conference at Arab Health 2023.