HEALTHCARE FACILITIES

Lebanon 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | B2B

Healthcare facilities in Lebanon are expanding thanks to superior quality and patient-oriented care and services.

Nayef Maalouf
NAYEF MAALOUF
Vice-President
Bellevue Medical Center (BMC)
Oscar Tarakjian
OSCAR TARAKJIAN
Chairman & CEO
Silkor Holding

How has your company expanded and evolved over the years?

NAYEF MAALOUF BMC opened in 2009 with a vision of becoming a top-quality and patient-safety-orientated hospital. After ensuring that our facility met international standards and had acquired state-of-the-art equipment, we were able to recruit highly qualified professors, physicians, and nurses. We became affiliated with the faculty of medicine of St. Joseph University, and our partnership and affiliation with Lund University has led to several publications. In 2012, we were accredited by the prestigious Joint Commission International for implementing the latest quality and patient safety standards; we were among the youngest hospitals in the world to have received this accreditation in a very short period of time. Along with our certificates of recognition, awards, and affiliations, we exceeded the rate of 95% for patient satisfaction. We have developed several specialized centers including musculoskeletal, maternity, teen clinic, diabetes, dialysis, and behavioral health centers.

OSCAR TARAKJIAN We started our mission in 1997 with our first branch in Beirut of 80sqm. Four years later, we had already opened our second branch in Lebanon and a third branch in 2005 in Verdun. In 2006, we expanded in Jumeirah, Dubai, and it was a pure success. We realized that people there love the brand Silkor very much, and this motivated the team to open a new branch every two to three months. Silkor spread its wings in 2008 to Qatar, Oman, Erbil, and Kuwait. 2010 was a big year for us; we opened our first HQ in Lebanon. After that, the next big move was in 2017. That is when my team and I decided in 2015 that it was time for us to start our own cosmetic hospital. We chose the first location in downtown Dubai, a 2,000-sqm space with two surgery rooms and 40 clinics. So far, we have not done any franchising. However, we are headed toward this strategy. I decided that it would be better at first to open each branch myself with my amazing team where at least I can control the quality.

How important is medical tourism for your company?

NM A number of factors allow Lebanon to be a hub for medical tourism, such as highly qualified physicians and healthcare givers, state-of-the-art equipment, common language, and excellent care services. But the political instability and the current travel ban for Gulf tourists jeopardize this sector. At BMC, our international patient numbers received through our international office have been increasing throughout the years, and we are hoping to see greater figures once the ban is lifted.

OT We are attracting a lot of medical tourism. We bring a lot of tourists to Lebanon. They come because of Silkor and then spend a few more days. They really like the quality of the work we do, and some people believe it is better than in other countries. A lot of people come from Europe and do their treatments, spend a few days here on vacation, and then go back to Europe. In terms of Dubai, we are part of the medical tourism ministry there. We help the medical tourism industry a lot in Dubai. Moreover, patients can go around the world with us; and no other company has that. With other branches or centers, they go to one country and do their treatment and then they are stuck there. With Silkor, some people decide to do one session here, then the next in London, and the next in Dubai, maybe because their cousin lives there.

What are your goals and priorities for the coming years?

NM Our focus right now is to be a healing hospital and to adopt and implement international patient-centered care criteria to improve our patients' experiences. Our goal is to be the first hospital in Lebanon to be Planetree designated—a recognition of top-quality, patient-centered care—and hopefully the first in the MENA region to receive the gold seal. In addition, we are focusing on our centers of excellence, establishing our clinical research unit, and investing in information technology to improve our healthcare services.

OT It is going to be pure expansion; we are going to have more Silkors in more countries. We have five now that are under construction. We are also planning to open a branch in Montreal. The reason is because there are a lot of Lebanese people living in Montreal; it is a huge community. We open wherever we see demand. People send us emails asking if we have a branch wherever they are, and that is what keeps us motivated to expand even more.