Interview: Healthcare needs to retain human touch, says Mediclinic Middle East CEO

David Hadley talks opportunities, trends and growth plans

  
David Hadley, CEO of Mediclinic Middle East.

David Hadley, CEO of Mediclinic Middle East.

Mediclinic Middle East / Handout via Zawya

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s business as usual at Mediclinic Middle East. The largest private healthcare group in the UAE has maintained its growth of 5 percent per annum while retaining all its staff without reducing their salaries.

According to CEO David Hadley, Mediclinic Middle East’s agility and business model have helped it “progress” in the UAE. 

“We added capacity with the introduction of Mediclinic Parkview Hospital in Dubai and will be adding further capacity with the addition of the new wing at Mediclinic Airport Road Hospital in Abu Dhabi,” he said. 

Mediclinic Middle East is owned by London Stock Exchange–listed Mediclinic International, one of the largest listed private hospital groups in the world. Globally, the group has 76 hospitals and 33,139 employees. In the UAE, the healthcare chain has about 1,200 doctors and 6,764 employees across its network of seven hospitals and 20 clinics.

COVID-19 RESPONSE

Mediclinic Middle East responded to the pandemic on multiple fronts. It participated in the COVID-19 command centres in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and also established one of its own.

Among the wide range of measures across the network of hospitals and clinics were management of multiple quarantine centres, focus on management of COVID-19 patients in its facilities, cancelling surgeries, trebling of ICU capacity and establishment of PCR laboratories and drive-through PCR testing facilities.

COMPASSIONATE CARE

According to KPMG, the UAE’s healthcare industry is one of its fastest-growing sectors, given the growing number of hospitals and clinics across the country. 

A new UAE healthcare perspectives study by KPMG titled “Who Cares, Wins” says that the focus in the future will be on digital and remote healthcare systems. While remote healthcare currently makes up about 1 to 3 percent of all Mediclinic’s consultations, the percentage did go up during the lockdown last year.

Hadley expects remote care number to increase over time. He says that virtual care will play a “pivotal role” in healthcare delivery in the future but that “it will struggle to replace face-to-face healthcare completely” as “healthcare needs to retain the human touch to retain its compassion.”

THE ROAD AHEAD 

With the worst of the pandemic over, Mediclinic is looking forward to expanding its network in Saudi Arabia and in Egypt. Mediclinc has commissioned its first multi-disciplinary hospital in Jeddah, which is expected to open in the second half of 2022. 

Hadley said that the healthcare provider also sees the wellness and prevention business in the country as “an area of opportunity”.

The company is ready to launch a Precision Medicine business in April 2021. “This is very exciting and will bring us even closer to the patients and enable us to provide even more personalised medicine,” said Hadley.

The chain has acquired a share in Bournhall Fertility (the founders of IVF) and Hadley is keen to grow this business.

MEDICAL TOURISM

Inbound medical tourism is on the rise in the UAE, and the local healthcare industry will witness considerable spending to attract patients to travel for treatment, according to KPMG.

UAE is already ranked first among Gulf countries in medical tourism globally, according to the US-based Medical Tourism Association.

Hadley explained that health tourists travel for one of three reasons: cost, lack of access in their home country and quality of healthcare services. He believes that the fact that the UAE has managed the COVID-19 outbreak efficiently presents a huge opportunity. 

“I believe that there is probably no better moment than right now to grow our medical tourism in the UAE,” said Hadley. “Once we have vaccinated the residents fully, imagine the opportunities that exist for us to become a vaccine tourism destination.”

(Reporting by Mily Chakrabarty; editing by Seban Scaria)

(mily.chakrabarty@refinitiv.com)

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© ZAWYA 2021

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