REVOLUTIONIZING HEALTHCARE

Dubai 2018 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HE Humaid Al Qatami, Chairman of the Board and Director-General of Dubai Health Authority (DHA), on the role of 3D printing in healthcare, the rise of Telehealth, and the emergence of precision medicine.

What role will innovation and technological developments such as artificial intelligence play in the development of Dubai's healthcare sector?

Innovation and technological developments will increasingly play a significant role to create a patient-centered health system. If we look at the role of 3D printing in healthcare, it has revolutionized the health industry. Today, thanks to 3D printed prosthetics, patients who are amputees have their lives transformed for the better as the prosthetics provide them with the maximum feeling of anatomical function. Similarly, doctors can perform complex surgeries with utmost precision using 3D printed models. Moreover, the technology is cost-effective, which makes it affordable across a wide spectrum of patients who need it. We, at the DHA, have seen these developments first-hand since we began using this technology nearly two years ago. We are working closely with the Dubai Future Foundation to bring to life the emirate's vision of harnessing modern technology to improve lives. In Artificial Intelligence (AI), we are working closely with world-class companies that are implementing AI in various fields to see how we can utilize these services in the healthcare landscape of Dubai. We are in the process of building an innovation center and we are working with the private sector to establish the most suitable model. Innovation cannot take place in isolation and thrives on collaboration; we are keen to work with innovators, healthcare entities, scientists, and researchers to improve healthcare outcomes and patient experience.

What other healthcare trends do you foresee in the upcoming years?

I foresee a rise in the UAE's population and a higher percentage of geriatric population, which means we need to create holistic services for the elderly and ensure sound capacity planning to meet the needs of an increasing population. I reckon there will be automated care at hospital set-ups due to emerging technologies, which will improve efficiency. At the same time, we can already see the emergence of precision medicine and personalized care especially as technology such as genetic testing becomes cost-effective. Improvements in healthcare fueled by technology will allow more accurate diagnostics, better data collection and integrated care. Patients will be empowered with knowledge due to smart technologies such as wearable devices that can track their fitness. They will be more engaged and knowledgeable in the management of their own health, enhancing preventive care measures. Employers will focus on wellness programs as health and wellness begins to take center stage. In the coming years, I anticipate a greater focus on outpatient care, preventive care, and precision medicine. A lot of care and follow-up currently done in hospitals and healthcare settings will move to home-care settings thanks to the emergence of telehealth. There will also be greater investment in the health sector in the coming years.

What big projects are you working on in the immediate future?

Some of the projects we are working on are focused on developing an oncology and cardiovascular center of excellence and establishing an innovation center.

Can you tell us more about the investment strategy that DHA recently launched?

Our aim is to foster and promote investment in areas that lack services or in medical fields where there are opportunities for growth. Several countries have dedicated healthcare investment promotion agencies and it is a better and more efficient way to operate. An investment strategy helps prevent oversupply, leads to availability of health specialists across various disciplines, and fosters the growth and development of specialized health services.