REVOLUTIONIZING HEALTH

Dubai 2018 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Humaid Al Qutami, Chairman of the Board and Director-General of Dubai Health Authority (DHA), on its initiatives in the areas of AI and 3D printing, his predictions for the sector, and its goal to promote research and investment.

Humaid Al Qutami
BIOGRAPHY
Humaid Al Qutami was the UAE Minister of Education from 2009-2014. He also served as the UAE Minister of Health from 2006-2009. Al Qatami holds a master’s degree in administration from Western Michigan University in the US. He has experience and expertise across the public and private sectors as well as in academia. He is currently Chairman of the Board and Director-General of DHA.

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

Innovation and technological developments will increasingly play a significant role in creating a patient-centered health system. If we look at the role of 3D printing in healthcare, it has revolutionized the industry. Today, as a result of 3D printed prosthetics, 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. The DHA has 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 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 are working with the private sector to establish the most suitable model. Innovation cannot take place in isolation and instead 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 great deal of the care and follow-up currently done in hospitals and healthcare settings will move to home-care settings as a result of 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 involve developing an oncology and cardiovascular center of excellence and establishing an innovation center.

Can you tell us more about the investment strategy 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.