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Exclusive: Award-winning RAK Hospital discusses success strategy and sector trends

Dr Raza Siddiqui, Executive Director of RAK Hospital, discusses with AMEinfo his hospital's latest success story, as well as the trends that are shaping the sector today.

"RAK Hospital is built on the unique model of blending excellent healthcare with premium hospitality" The hospital is seeing a "reversal of outbound medical tourism to inbound tourism" as the UAE perfects its insurance policies "Healthcare, like any other industry is an economy of scale and number game"

Last month, RAK Hospital won the prestigious Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Award (SKEA) for Business Excellence at the 17th edition of the SKEA award, gaining recognition as the only healthcare institution in private sector to receive the honour. The healthcare institution is also the first hospital in the northern emirates to have won the award, selected from more than 50 companies representing all economic sectors in the UAE and abroad. 

To receive this award is no small feat, and as such, AMEinfo had the chance to speak with Dr Raza Siddiqui, Executive Director of RAK Hospital, who shared his with us his insititution’s award-winning strategy, as well as valuable insight into the UAE’s healthcare sector. 

Dr Raza Siddiqui, Executive Director of RAK Hospital

RAK Hospital recently won the Sheikh Khalifa Excellence award. Can you explain to us how RAK Hospital was able to achieve the qualifications needed to receive this honour, and how it positioned itself to be favourable to win? 

RAK Hospital is built on the unique model of blending excellent healthcare with premium hospitality. The result is highest quality care, a relaxing experience for the patient and quick recovery time. In fact, our average length of stay over the past four years is of 2 days, which we are consistently maintaining.

Moreover, we have adopted the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Business Excellence Model in which we take into account all stakeholders’ needs and expectation with customer satisfaction being our prime focus. In terms of innovation, we have brought to the UAE several new technologies with focus on customer services to enhance experience and clinical excellence.

What are the most notable healthcare trends your organisation has observed in the UAE?

One important trend that we are seeing is the transition from the government supported healthcare system towards mandatory insurance. The process is already implemented in Dubai and Abu Dhabi with Northern Emirates to follow next year. This development has given all segments accessibility to healthcare, allowing them to choose the facility of their choice and convenience, both in government and private sector. 

Another interesting trend that we have observed lately is the reversal of outbound medical tourism to inbound tourism. There was a time when a majority of the people from the UAE were travelling out of the country for tertiary care. Now, thanks to the insurance policies, the number of patients visiting hospitals in the UAE has increased significantly. Moreover, in order to attract more patients, hospitals, too, are enlisting and maintaining quality and skilled human resource. 

The government, in particular, has invested into several facilities to bring them at par with other developed countries, such as the top-of-the-line Oncology procedures. For instance in Ras Al Khaimah, the Ministry of Presidential Affairs has come up with cancer treatment centres. 

Technology continues to revolutionize sectors in all domains of business. What technological innovations are playing the biggest role today in the healthcare sector, and can you share with us some of the outcomes and results of such implementation?

The UAE is known for the latest and modern services and facilities in almost all areas. It does not lag behind in technology accreditation and Artificial Intelligence in healthcare. We are now seeing the use of robotics and 3D data into healthcare, the impact of which will be seen in years to come.

All these developments will eventually lead to paperless hospitals, improvement in turn-around time of the results of most investigations and the use of robotic surgeries in many areas. Some of the new hospitals are already using robotics for advanced care procedures. 

Are there any obstacles that stand in the way of the development of the healthcare sector in the UAE? (Lack of specialized personnel or specific hardware, etc.)

Healthcare, like any other industry is an economy of scale and number game. In the UAE, we have certain population demographics which reflect its medical needs. Consequently, there are a few procedures that cannot possibly happen here presently, due to lack of numbers, and subsequently lack of demand. For instance, high end transplants are not possible as yet, due to presence of a younger population which does not need this medical facility. 

However, many procedures not happening now will take place as UAE becomes more mature for inbound medical tourism and that will impact the numbers.