In what ways do you see the efforts to reach carbon neutrality impacting the health sector and Mediclinic’s activities?
The healthcare sector can play a major role in achieving carbon neutrality. First of all, by reducing emissions and waste, but secondly by moving to sustainable and renewable energy. We already have an ESG strategy at Mediclinic in the Middle East and within it have objectives that are focused on how we can support the drive to carbon neutrality. As a start, we are devising ways to reduce our energy utilization. We have started to implement smart thermostats and systems, which have already reduced our consumption quite substantially in areas where implemented. This doesn't bring us to carbon neutrality, however, but merely reduces usage. In Abu Dhabi, we have been fortunate to be able to purchase green energy through ENEC and, as a result, we are the first healthcare company to obtain green energy certification. As soon it is available in Dubai, we will do the same. We will shortly remove single-use plastic completely from all of our facilities; instead, when you pick up your pharmacy pills, they will be in recyclable bags. We have also removed plastic cups from all our central waiting areas and are working with many of the vendors in terms of packaging etc.
As a London-listed entity we already have strong governance in place, and we are also currently running several initiatives as part of our previously announced plans to employ 1,000 Emiratis over the next couple of years, and we're making great headway on that. We are also dedicated to gender diversity, having established a diversity leadership forum, and we have various committees running throughout the organization. I am pleased that over the last year, 60% of our promotions were for women, which shows that these initiatives are bearing fruits already.
How do you see the role of R&D?
We have an innovation team and are scheduled to run hackathons throughout the organization this year that will hopefully produce some great ideas from our internal teams on how to address important issues facing the business. One of these, obviously, is how to reach carbon neutrality.
Where do you see the local healthcare industry post Expo?
I believe that Expo achieved something fresh for the region, being highly educational in nature, with a great emphasis on sustainability. It also showcased the wonderful opportunities provided by choosing to make the UAE your home. I think you will find that more companies and individuals will want to relocate to the UAE. Expo was a massive advertising opportunity for the UAE and for Dubai specifically, to showcase the opportunities on offer. The benefit for the healthcare sector from that perspective is the resulting need to provide more healthcare of better quality to keep pace with national development.
What are your expansion plans over the coming years?
Regarding the UAE itself, we are already very well established. We recently opened Mediclinic Parkview Hospital, which is not even three years old. We also opened a new extension to Mediclinic Airport Road Hospital in Abu Dhabi. We are looking to expand one of our hospitals in Al Ain and separately we are constantly redeveloping our facilities, including a number of plans for Mediclinic City Hospital. What we expect to see in the UAE over the next few years is new opportunities for us as nascent areas develop. We will be able to add primary care clinics and then, eventually, if the population continues to grow, additional hospitals. But right now, we only perceive a need for additional primary care clinics. Apart from the acquisition of the Bourn Hall IVF centers, we have invested into a home care business and we plan to expand it very rapidly across the UAE. More and more people want care at home and we need to embrace technology to facilitate this. We have a remote patient monitoring program that we run using a chronic disease-monitoring module. We also have an app that we're busy piloting at the moment for all your preventative needs. We have also recently launched our precision medicine business in Dubai. Once national medical insurance coverage, currently not available, becomes a reality in the northern Emirates it will generate a greater opportunity for providers like ourselves to invest in those areas. And then if we look beyond the country, we've started our first hospital project in Jeddah that should open early next year. We're planning to realize one in Riyadh as well and are actively looking at other countries in the region.
What is your outlook for the future of healthcare?
Healthcare has been one of the most disrupted industries in the sense that every healthcare provider is already focused on becoming more digital in offering home care and a telemedicine service. We have merely expedited the process as people became more aware of their health during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recently opened a sports rehab center at Mediclinic Parkview Hospital that is doing incredibly well; so well in fact that we need a few more across the region We've launched precision medicine services and more and more people are keen to understand the genome, the microbiome, and so forth and this can only improve care. The pandemic simply created more of an awareness about healthcare, and we have clearly seen that patients have a higher expectation. They want and expect more, and are now voting with their feet in terms of the quality healthcare providers they look to for service. So, we have had to step up our game and keep pace with these expectations. From a healthcare perspective, we have had to digitize more, to offer new services, and to focus on preventative care. We've had to come up with innovative ways to embrace the way that people are thinking and the new demands they have of healthcare. We as providers need to be able to deliver those services to them going forward and I'm quite excited that we have already been able to embrace this reality.