I CAME, I SAW

Iran 2013 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | B2B: EYE SURGERY

Ophthalmology is among Iran's most developed healthcare services and the country is active in research and high-quality patient care.

Dr. M. Jabbarvand
DR. M. JABBARVAND
Managing Director & Member of the Board
Farabi Eye Hospital
Dr. Hassan Hashemi
DR. HASSAN HASHEMI
Head & Founder
Noor Eye Hospital

How would you evaluate the advances made in ophthalmology procedures in Iran?

DR. M. JABBARVAND Iran is categorized among developing nations in terms of economic development and global health care indices, but when it comes to eye health I believe that we are in a similar position as developed countries. Blinding ocular infections are very rare and infections are mostly caused by contact lens wear, or as a result of the herpes simplex virus. We do not just treat patients, we improve the quality of their lives. Refractive surgery, which allows you to set aside contact lenses and glasses, is very common in Iran and probably the second most common procedure at Farabi Hospital. Why? Because it's a life-changing procedure and not purely therapeutic.

HASSAN HASHEMI Iran is a country of some 75 million people, and there are a wide variety of eye-related diseases and ailments. There are currently 1,500 ophthalmologists working in Iran and almost 2,000 optometrists. Around 5,000 optician shops are also providing care. In clinical practice, the level of health service provided by Iranian ophthalmologists is not that different from modern countries. Various services are provided and performed in Iran and highly qualified surgeons are specialized in different sub-specialties. Standards across the country are extremely close to international standards. With our expertise, there is no doubt we can easily compete with other countries in the field of ophthalmology.

How does your institution differ from its competitors?

MJ Our distinctiveness lies in our variety of research activity, education, and services. If you compare Farabi to a private hospital, they're generally not that active in education and research because they essentially do business. We have a great amount of responsibility educating future ophthalmologists. We are one of the oldest hospitals in Iran, established over 70 years ago. Now we have around 72 residents, 18 fellows in different subspecialties, and a high number of medical students who came here for their ophthalmic rounds. In terms of research, we publish over 100 peer-reviewed publications a year that are indexed in reputable bibliographic databases. We have established research labs, including a chemistry lab, a lab for animal testing, a genetic lab, and a clean room.

HH Around 20 years ago the Noor Eye Hospital started its business in the field of ophthalmology. We were pioneers in this respect because many new surgical procedures in the country, such as modern “sutureless" cataract surgery, laser refractive surgery, lamellar keratoplasty, and phakic intraocular lens (PIOL) implantation were performed here for the first time. In Iran, people who want to have eye surgery or need eye care choose to go to pioneers like us because they know we offer high-quality service. We use the most advanced equipment and devices we can find in the world and we recruit the best surgeons to provide patients with the finest care. Considering these two aspects, I think we are the best the market can offer. In terms of costs and the provision of eye care for patients, we always try to consider our patients' expenses and we offer the best treatment at lower costs.

How do you work to grow and remain competitive?

MJ We had 600,000 referrals last year, 10% of which needed surgery. Despite the ever-increasing load, we are proud that we do not have waiting lists. We have tried to keep up with demand through major infrastructural investment in new laboratories and spaces for diagnostics and operations. The academic staff is not only active in research, but also in service. We are competitive in the market because the price of our service is several times less than in the private sector, despite being of a comparable quality, and also because we have a good relationship with the media. The hospital is synonymous with responsiveness, which is an area that our management has worked hard on.

HH We have three key elements that help us grow each year. The first and foremost is technology. We have high standards in technology not only in Iran itself, but in the whole region.

The second is the quality of treatment patients receive. The third is cost. Our costs are lower compared to other private hospitals in the region. These three key points help us maintain and improve our services in the field of ophthalmology. We perform about 2,500 refractive surgeries and 1,600 other surgical procedures, such as cataract surgery, retinal surgery, and corneal transplantation, along with other products every month. We have to satisfy each and every patient we admit.