The Business Year

Marc Harrison

UAE, ABU DHABI - Health & Education

Critical Situation

CEO, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Bio

Marc Harrison joined the staff of the Children’s Hospital at the Cleveland Clinic in 1999. Subsequently, he served as Medical Director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Chairman of the Department of Pediatric Critical Care, Associate Chief of Staff, Director of Medical Operations and Chief Medical Operations Officer. He holds a medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School, a Master’s in Medical Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and a certificate in Managing Healthcare Delivery from Harvard Business School.

Can you elaborate on the unique nature of your operations in Abu Dhabi? The perception is that Mubadala Development Company has sponsored us to establish Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) […]

Can you elaborate on the unique nature of your operations in Abu Dhabi?

The perception is that Mubadala Development Company has sponsored us to establish Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) in a culturally relevant and appropriate format. Ours is a physician-led practice that combines people to foster the best possible patient care. In addition, it promotes collegiality and teamwork, not to the exclusion of individual success, but such that the team comes first and the individual second. We want our people to contribute something to the UAE that is consistent with Vision 2030, namely world-class healthcare for a world-class city. In short, our project here is about people, processes, technologies, and values: a replication of Cleveland Clinic right here in Abu Dhabi. We have 350 staff, though we started with just 40 or 50 people. Emirati staff comprise 13% of our personnel.

Has it been a challenge to attract international talent to Abu Dhabi?

We’ve had over 4,000 applications for 175 physicians’ jobs. And that’s not because we offer highly competitive salaries, it’s because of our operational model that encourages physicians to reach their full potential. Thousands of hours of effort went into working with Mubadala Development Company to design CCAD with this focus. While most hospitals have separate departments, such as pulmonology, dermatology, or cardiology, here we put people in institutes where, for example, a heart doctor will work in the same facility as a heart surgeon or the vascular surgeon with the vascular medical practitioner. We organize our activities around what the patient needs, rather than what is traditionally more convenient for the doctors, which is quite a radical departure. Here, it’s easy for patients to receive well-coordinated, thoughtful care, which eliminates the need to move from specialist to specialist.

Do you focus on any areas in particular?

We will have 32 specialties when we open our doors, although we’re actually focused on five core areas based on the healthcare needs of Abu Dhabi. Among these is heart and vascular medicine, which is traditionally one of the Cleveland Clinic’s formidable strengths. For 19 years we have been the number one in the US, and our cardiovascular surgery program is twice as big as any other in the country, with about 4,400 cases a year. Then there’s the neurological institute, currently under development, which can deal with a wide spectrum of issues, from diabetes to stroke victims. There’s also an institute for digestive diseases, which treats conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, which although a relatively common problem among the population here, still lacks comprehensive treatment. A fourth institute is the institute for intensive respiratory care to cater to the significant local incidence of lung disease. Finally, the fifth institute is ophthalmology.

What does your facility bring to the region?

People tend to talk about CCAD as a hospital, but in fact it is a medical campus that happens to be located on Al Maryah Island. The in-patient facility has 364 beds, which is expandable to about 490 beds. We provide day surgery to around 140 patients. We also have an out-patient facility, and 255 exam rooms. In terms of staff, we’ll ultimately employ 3,000 people. We’re an entire medical office complex on the out-patient side, an ambulatory surgery center, and a tertiary and quaternary hospital all rolled up into one with educational facilities, a beautiful auditorium and conference center. Then there’s a complete diagnostic and treatment center where all imaging is done and laboratory needs met, as well as infusion suites with dialysis capability.

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