Dubai moves forward with hospital rankings amid medical tourism drive

Dubai is moving forward with its plan for hospitals and clinics to be ranked according to their performance and patient satisfaction as the emirate seeks to attract more medical tourists from home and abroad.

Currently, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is conducting a pilot project with five hospitals that would be over by the end of the year.

It is collecting information on areas such as infection control, staff turnover, staff satisfaction and mortality rates among other performance indicators of the hospitals. It is also collecting international benchmarks.

“They will report to us, we analyse [the data] and we will feed it back to them, so we will tell them if there are any gaps in the service and we will work with them on bridging these gaps to make sure we are working together to raise the quality and the quality bar,” said Linda Abdullah Ali, DHA’s head of medical tourism initiative. “We will set benchmarks [for the performance indicators] and once we achieve them we will raise it so that it is dynamic.”

Once the pilot project is done, DHA would gradually involve more hospitals and clinics, and it is expected to take 18 months to cover them all.

This first phase would be called Adaa, which means performance in Arabic. After the data collection, DHA would rank the healthcare facilities in mid-2017 or early 2018, starting with hospitals followed by day care surgeries and outpatient clinics. The second phase would be called Tasnif, or ranking in Arabic.

Ms Abdullah Ali was speaking at the third International Medical Travel Exhibition and Conference in Dubai that ended yesterday.

“I hope they would rank [the hospitals] by the statistics, accreditation and specialisations of doctors among others and not by business generated,” said Nisrine Halfya, a senior business development executive with Medcare Hospitals.

DHA has identified seven specialisations that promotes medical tourism such as plastic surgery, orthopaedics, wellness, dermatology and infertility treatment.

On Wednesday, DHA said it has introduced insurance for medical tourists with premiums of Dh140 to Dh180 per trip in the event that medical complications develop within a month of treatment. It covers costs for return flights, hotel expenses and the treatment.

Of Dubai’s 2,900 healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics and day care surgery centres, 26 belong to Dubai’s medical tourism initiative. These were identified on criteria such as their ability to provide tailor-made services to medical tourists such as translation, and visa and hotel assistance.

DHA would also introduce e-investigation of medical malpractice so that patients can lodge complaints from overseas.

Dubai first launched its medical tourism strategy in 2012. It has already received about 260,000 medical tourists during the first half of the year.

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