PRIORITIZING PATIENTS

Lebanon 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Hassan El Solh, Medical Center Director & Chief Medical Officer of American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), on the center's expanding infrastructure and patient services, upgrades in technology, and development of specialties and centers of excellence.

Dr. Hassan El Solh
BIOGRAPHY
As a practicing doctor, Dr. Hassan El Solh is a pediatric hematologist and oncologist with a focus on stem cell transplantation. He received his MD from AUB 1980 and pursued further training in Canada and the US. Academically, Dr. El Solh is a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at AUB and Al Faisal University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He serves on several editorial boards for high-impact medical journals, and his research interests include biology and treatment of cancer, particularly leukemia and stem cell transplant. Prior to becoming chief medical officer and medical center director, Dr. El Solh was appointed as chief of staff of AUBMC and director of the Children’s Cancer Center at AUBMC in 2012.

Since your appointment as the Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Medical Center, what have been your main priorities?

AUBMC has become one of the leading healthcare organizations in Lebanon and the region by focusing on high quality patient care, research, education, and training. The pillars of the 2020 vision and strategic plan for AUBMC launched by Executive Vice President and the Dean of Faculty of Medicine at the American University of Beirut, Dr. Mohamed Sayegh, prioritize patient-centered care in an environment of research and academic achievements. For years, AUBMC has attracted not only Lebanese patients, but also patients from several neighboring countries, including Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf countries, in addition to North African countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria. Despite the difficult period of the Lebanese civil war, this institution has continued to provide the best quality patient care, as well as education and training in the medical field. We train some of the most prominent healthcare leaders in the industry, not only in Lebanon, but in the region as well. Since my appointment, I have been focusing on developing the infrastructure of the center, improving the productivity and efficiency of the staff, and supporting patient access to high-quality care by reducing the cost of medical services. In order to accommodate the demand for medical services at AUBMC, we have been expanding the ambulatory care and inpatient facilities. Most notably, the Academic and Clinical Center (ACC) is being constructed and will be completed by the end of 2017. We are also expanding the medical complex by constructing a new building with around 150 beds, operation rooms, and an emergency department. Also, we are developing centers of excellence in different specialties under the leadership of highly qualified staff, utilizing cutting-edge technology.

AUBMC covers a wide range of specialties. In which areas is the center most specialized?

At AUBMC, we put the patient's needs first. We provide primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary patient care through core competency programs and centers of excellence. Our focus has been on cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurosciences, and genetic diseases. Recently, we established the Genomic Center to launch the personalized medicine programs through assessment of the biology of diseases and metabolic functions of the host to tailor treatment for patients. We also have the most advanced technology in laparoscopic surgery, which helps avoid major incisions with specific surgical procedures, and radiation therapy.

What are the main highlights and results of your new electronic health record system?

We are currently preparing to launch the “Epic” clinical informatics system, a leading electronic medical records system in the US. Epic will make AUBMC one of the few paperless healthcare facilities in the region, and we plan to launch in November 2018. This system will help improve the efficiency and quality of care and reduce the likelihood of errors and risks for patients. We have recruited almost 90 additional staff who we have sent to the US for training, Additionally, we are keen on introducing the state-of-the-art Pyxis system in pharmacy services to ensure the quality of medications dispensed to customers.

What are your priorities for 2018?

Our primary aim for the coming year is to improve specific services in core competency disciplines here at AUBMC, specifically oncology, cardiovascular, neurosciences, and specific subspecialties in surgery such as orthopedic, plastic surgery, and vascular diseases. We are also establishing an obesity and diabetes center, which will be instrumental in the prevention and control of diseases that are prevalent in the region. Moreover, we are working on establishing a center of excellence for cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and hypertension and are expanding in the areas of liver and kidney disease, including programs for transplants whenever we have an availability of organs. We are also working to develop cancer and stem cell research.