What is DHA's role in pioneering the sector and its leadership role in facilitating the implementation of technology in healthcare in Dubai?
We are part of Dubai Future Accelerator Program within the Dubai Future Foundation. We are one of the first entities that signed up, and we take pride in calling ourselves one of the founders of the program. Through the accelerator program, we host four companies per cohort. We look at their technologies and accelerate the presence and availability of technology in Dubai, starting from proof of concept (POC) all the way through to implementation. So far, we have worked on 24 POCs, with several moving into implementation. We are guided by four pillars: optimizing quality, time, cost, and patient safety. Technology improves quality, reduces time, lowers cost, and ensures patient safety. Because of the influence of technology on these four pillars, DHA has been at the forefront of adopting technology and facilitating this adoption in the private sector as well. Often, we have providers and other stakeholders from both the public and private sectors implementing the innovative ideas coming out of the accelerator program. The private sector has been receptive and is keen to adopt such technologies.
From where do you attract companies and their POCs for the accelerator program?
We are open to POCs from companies from anywhere in the world. The important thing is that, if they come from abroad, we must help them engineer the POC carefully. What might have worked in their country might not work well in our country. We are extremely careful about engineering the right POC, making sure it will tick all the right boxes in terms of achieving what we want. There is no guarantee that a POC will be successful, though my team and I embrace failure as much as we enjoy and embrace success as well. These POCs, once engineered carefully, are documented in a mini contractual agreements or MoUs to protect both sides in terms of intellectual property or ownership of assets. We then move on to implementation. Key success factors have unfolded wonderfully, yet we are still learning three years into the program. We are benefiting patients and the patient ecosystem through certain touch points in a bid to improve the healthcare ecosystem. One of the best implementation methods is finding a doctor who wants to improve and use technology to more fundamentally change medicine. For every POC, we intend to choose a leading clinical professional to spearhead the technology. What is better is if they approach us and say there is technology in a specific part of the world, and we host that company in Dubai. An advantage of the accelerator program is the interaction with similar companies across sectors. There are companies hosted by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality, and others. The sharing of ideas creates even more ideas and innovations. We have seen them marry their ideas to create wonderful hybrid technologies like for education and healthcare or solar panels and construction.
How your office is enhancing the human capabilities within the health sector?
In 2017, we launched a training program called Awtaad, an Arabic word for tent stakes. We chose this name because we wanted to make sure there are “stakes" holding down and supporting the “tent," or the health sector. We started with change management and moved on to project management, training 50-100 people in this area. We are now moving on to health economics and AI. By the end of the current strategy, the Awtaad program will train 200-300 staff members on certain elements. These may not be mentioned in the strategy, but when we notice a gap in the DHA collective knowledge of 13,000 employees, we immediately propose an HR strategy through our own medical education department that will fill this gap. We strongly believe in building our human capacity and investing in our people.