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Raising the bar in healthcare

Raising the bar in healthcare

Specialized centres of excellence key to meeting GCC healthcare goals By Georges Chidiac, Senior Vice President and General Manager, SAICOHEALTH. The below article has been published on Gulf Business.

With the global healthcare landscape becoming ever more complex, governments across the GCC region are increasingly acknowledging the importance of the sector to socio-economic diversification and growth. National agendas in both Saudi Arabia (Saudi Vision 2030) and the UAE (Vision 2021) highlight world-class healthcare as integral to creating sustainable economies and committed societies.

With the global healthcare landscape becoming ever more complex, governments across the GCC region are increasingly acknowledging the importance of the sector to socio-economic diversification and growth. National agendas in both Saudi Arabia (Saudi Vision 2030) and the UAE (Vision 2021) highlight world-class healthcare as integral to creating sustainable economies and committed societies.

The definition of world-class healthcare is broad, however specialised centres of excellence (COEs) are leading the way in serving increasing patient expectations and demand for more personalised services. As the name suggests COEs are primarily designed to deliver high-quality care consistently. They are specialised programmes that supply exceptionally high concentrations of expertise and resources focused on particular medical areas and delivered in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary fashion.

They are also a key cornerstone to fostering a strong base for medical tourism, which the region seeks to be a leader in, providing options for medical tourists from around the globe and preventing GCC residents having to travel far and wide in search of the best treatment.

Specialisation in healthcare is also taking on greater importance to service the region’s elderly. According to the United Nations Population Fund, by 2050, the GCC’s ageing population – those aged 60 plus – is expected to be at an all-time high of 20.66 percent, the highest in the Arab World.

Challenges and opportunities

With competition continuing to grow, healthcare institutions and providers are under increasing pressure to differentiate themselves by offering tailored services that deliver quality care in certain medical areas. Specialised COEs provide significant opportunities to stand out and help redefine the industry. Regarded as hubs for expertise and innovation, specialised COEs have the ability to deliver superior quality through the focused application of innovative tools, technologies, and techniques. They are also able to attract significant talent, of both clinical and administrative, combining service delivery excellence with efficient management to the benefit of patients. 

Centres specialising in cardiology, orthopaedics, oncology, ophthalmology, bariatric surgery, and neurology, arguably offer the greatest number of opportunities with many of these specialities required to service the region’s growing 60-plus population.

Success in excellence

The most successful centres of excellence are those that believe in the principle that quality attracts patients. Those across the region that adhere to that principle have the best chance to succeed, service excellence combined with cultural sensitivities will put many minds, particularly the old generation, at ease.

Another winning formula for centres of excellence is that they become highly attractive to ambitious and dedicated professionals, enhancing the possibility of recruiting the best physicians, nurses, administrators, and technicians.

Raising the standards

The existence of COEs can also positively impact the healthcare industry as a whole, with institutions, hospitals and clinics reassessing their service quality in an attempt to compete in a challenging market, raising the standards across the board.

At the same time COEs have the potential to positively impact a range of service lines. Their high appeal can result in cross-selling opportunities for external services, which can accelerate sector development. COEs can also improve the sector’s financial performance by boosting patient volume and establishing service standards that attract optimum fee levels for highly specialised care.

Cost reduction

COEs provide an avenue for cost reduction through standardisation and quality improvement. By creating standard protocols, healthcare teams at COEs can more consistently meet quality targets and improve care efficiency. This, in turn, creates cost savings that can be reinvested in the overall patient experience. Delivering the right care at the right time, in the best setting, reduces waste and improves outcomes. 

From an insurer’s standpoint, SAICOHEALTH promises to offer clients value and enhanced quality at reduced costs, this is precisely what regional COEs will help us achieve. Working together with COEs, we can anticipate costs in advance, expect high-quality medical services versus referring patients to general hospitals were value is often not optimised. COEs can without any doubt highly contribute to an efficient management of the health insurance plan, improve customer retention and provide renewal premiums sustainability.

COEs will be a game changer in the region’s healthcare landscape as they provide a platform for the healthcare systems to align physicians in quality improvement, reduce costs through greater efficiencies and create market differentiation through clinical excellence and high patient satisfaction. In other words, it is a positive step in the provision of real value-based care for patients.

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