INTEGRATED CARE FOR ALL

Qatar 2020 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

PHCC is committed to improving the health of Qataris through preventative attention and care, with localized treatment clinics and panels on healthy choices.

Dr. Mariam Ali Abdulmalik
BIOGRAPHY

Dr. Mariam Alabdulmalik is the Managing Director of PHCC, running over 27 health centers across Qatar. As PHCC leader, Dr. Alabdulmalik is responsible for implementing Qatar's national primary healthcare strategy with a focus on primary care as the foundation for enhancing health and wellbeing. She completed her academic fellowship in family medicine at the University of Toronto, Canada, and holds an MBA. Dr. Alabdulmalik is one of the core leaders of health care services in Qatar, with more than 25 years of expertise and experience in health systems management and has held several leadership positions since 2001.

What is the focus of PHCC regarding the increased health level of the country?
Evidence shows that health systems oriented toward primary care achieve better health outcomes for lower overall costs. This is an important phase of PHCC's development, as we continue to tackle several national health challenges. Qatari life expectancy has been constantly improving, and in the coming decades, the quality of life for Qataris is at risk due to their changing lifestyles. Although there is already a high prevalence of chronic conditions and associated risk factors, the best way to a healthy population is to focus on wellness and prevention, and having comprehensive primary healthcare service. PHCC has placed significant emphasis on developing safe, high-quality health services across all our centers. In 2018, we received the International Diamond Accreditation by Accreditation Canada. As an organization, PHCC is encouraged by its achievements under the national primary healthcare strategy. We have upgraded and opened new primary care facilities, enhanced and delivered eight transformative models of care to meet the greatest health needs of our communities, and strengthened the capacity and capability of our workforce through additional investment, staff development and training. We have also participated in sector-wide discussions and planning forums, placing primary care as the first and continuous point of care in the health system. Our vision is ambitious, detailed, and achievable. We have already increased our focus on prevention and wellness by creating a new preventative healthcare directorate as part of an improved organizational structure. We have strengthened our clinical leadership and created a new AMD Directorate for quality and workforce development. The new National Health Strategy calls for a future family medicine model of care based on better system collaboration across the whole sector and improved access to more comprehensive services in the community.

What are the areas set for improvement for the upcoming year?
Prevention is the main pillar of our strategy. There are five focus groups: children, mothers, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic diseases. Our programs are aligned with the needs of these groups using preventative measures. Patients have easy access to care at our facilities as well as at home. Doctors are supported by multi-disciplinary teams to accomplish this goal, focusing on providing patient-centered care, as the relationships between doctors, their teams, and patients is key to the success of any healthcare system. We are also introducing technology and innovation to ensure ease of access, with plans to launch a PHCC mobile app. Currently, patients can get information on the patient portal about their health status. To further enhance partnership with patients, our patient engagement team hosts discussions that empower the patient and allow them to take greater responsibility for their health.

What is the relevance of preventive care to avoid future diseases?
The 30 targets set in the National Health Strategy are our reference points over the next five years to minimize emergency room visits. We will do this by having strong family medicine and primary healthcare services established in the country. We offer patients access to healthcare before they are sick, with facilities closer to their homes. We want to provide easy access to appointments and follow-ups, bringing more diagnostic services to the community. Ideally, the hospital should only be used for critical cases and acute illnesses.

What are the next practical steps for PHCC?
Our vision is to be the leader in transforming the wellbeing of people in Qatar by changing the way healthcare is provided. To enable this, we will strengthen our engagement with key partners across the health system to shift the balance of care from curative, hospital-based treatment to enhanced preventative health and wellness services in the community. This will better align healthcare and resources toward an approach of integrated care, with a focus on empowering people to make informed decisions for their health.