Regional Profile – United Arab Emirates
DHCC comes to life

The development of Dubai Healthcare City is coming on in leaps and bounds, with some sections already complete and others well under construction. Callan Emery spoke to the newly appointed CEO, Dr Muhadditha Al Hashimi, about the project.

Callan Emery: As a resident of Dubai, over the past two years I’ve watched in fascination as Dubai Healthcare City has begun to take shape. It is now coming to life. At what stage is the development?

Muhadditha Al Hashimi: As you know, DHCC is being built in two phases. Phase one, the Medical Cluster, is almost 50% complete. We are awaiting the completion of two major projects – the university hospital and the Harvard Medical School Dubai Centre, which are at the core of Phase one and constitute the Academic Medical Center.

There are also several hospitals and clinics under construction. Final completion of Phase one is expected in 2009.

Phase two is the Wellness Cluster. It is due to be completed in 2010. MEH: As you drive into DHCC there is a billboard advertising that leasing is open for certain clinics. How is this going? Are they being taken up?

MAH:
Yes, it is going well. The building is called the Al Razi Medical Complex after the famous Islamic physician from Persia. Seventy-five percent of it is for clinical units and 25% for day surgery units. Physicians are already moving in and clinic fit outs have commenced.

CE: Where do they come from?
MAH:
From all around the world. There is a diverse mix of clinics that serve different specialties.

CE:  I understand they have to qualify beforehand.
MAH:
Yes. However, there are 27 pre-approved countries that meet DHCC’s licensing qualifications.

CE:  Is this a long procedure?
MAH:
Not really. They complete the required applications. These are reviewed by DHCC’s regulatory body CPQ,, which was established in association with Harvard Medical International.

Once they receive initial approval, they submit their designs for the clinic or day surgery. The entire process can take six to nine months from initial application to being operational, but the actual licensing takes a maximum of six weeks.

CE:  Once physicians start practising, how will you keep track of quality?
MAH:
[DHCC’s quality assurance body] has a routine schedule. Before physicians can start operating, DHCC’s quality-control specialists will inspect the premises. They will check that the place is designed and equipped correctly.

Following this there will be scheduled checks in the following six months, 18 months and so. In addition there will also be unannounced spot checks where we check the records, infection control and so on.

CE:  Construction of the educational sector of DHCC has recently begun. When is it expected to be complete and can you tell me a bit about this development?
MAH:
It is expected to be completed in 2009.

The educational sector [which sits at the core of DHCC] has been designed as an academic campus and each part – the Harvard Medical School building, the university teaching hospital and a major hotel – is connected and can be accessed by pedestrian walkways either above or below ground.

We’ve set up the Harvard Medical School Dubai Center to address a need in the Middle East – the training of physicians ... the training of post-grad medical students. We have good medical schools in the UAE, but there is no structured postgrad training facility.

CE:  How many students do you expect initially?
MAH:
Well, we need the hospital to be established beforehand. We expect the first intake to be in 2010 with about 100 post-grad students.

And then the first batch will graduate in three years, depending on the specialty – some are three years, some are five years.

CE:  And the curriculum will be designed by Harvard?
MAH:
Yes.

CE:  Attached to the medical school and teaching hospital is the life sciences research centre. Is this correct?
MAH:
Yes.

CE:  What will be the function of the life sciences research centre?
MAH:
The three elements of the Academic Medical City are the university hospital, the Harvard Medical School Dubai Center and the Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research, which is an endowment fund of US$100 million collected from donors in this region.

The money is to train scientists from this region in Boston. They will come back and establish their labs here and this will form the life science research facility. However, this is not being developed now, but is a plan for the future.

The uniqueness of this fund is that it is for the training of scientists, not for the research. It is an investment in human capital, which is required in this region.

CE:  Is the Wellness Cluster under construction at the moment?
MAH:
Yes.

CE:  Can you tell me about this sector?
MAH:
It is five times bigger than the Medical Cluster, although it is not as concentrated or condensed as the Medical Cluster. There will be more open areas with medical spas and so on. It will follow the ‘wellness’ theme.

And, like the Medical Cluster which has as its anchor the Academic Medical Centre, it will have the Centre for Integrative Medicine. This will be a place where we will work at integrating clinical medicine with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

CE:  Will the quality control board for the Medical Cluster, also oversee quality in the Wellness Cluster.
MAH:
Yes. Actually, as we speak, they are drawing up the regulations for CAM practitioners.

CE:  Because of the nature of CAM, it must be difficult to assure its quality and regulate the CAM practitioners. How will you do this?
MAH:
This has been pioneered in the West and the United States has developed CAM regulations.

We’ve put together a global team of experts in CAM. They will assist in choosing which practises we will regulate and which practises we will not allow to operate.

This is important, particularly for CAM, as people want to go to a place which is regulated, where practitioners are licensed. With healthcare the element of trust is crucial and this is what DHCC is emphasising with its quality controls – ‘DHCC is a trusted healthcare destination.’ We are not only looking to attract sick people.

We will also attract healthy people who will come to have their regular medical check-ups. We will have screening centres for various diseases, such as cancer. Preventative medicine is part of the ‘wellness’ theme.

You don’t have to be sick to do a screening; you can do it to prevent disease or to catch it early.

CE:  Looking at the architectural scale model of DHCC, there is an elevated metro rail system running through it and a hotel complex. Can you tell me a bit about the transport network for DHCC and hospitality accommodation?
MAH:
The rail system you see on the model is part of the Dubai metro [currently under construction] and there are two stops in DHCC – one in the Medical Cluster and one in the Wellness Cluster. We’ll also have our own internal shuttle that will take people from one side to the other.

However, the way DHCC has been designed is to make it like a campus, so it is possible to walk everywhere. The hotels complex – there will be a couple of hotels, although in Phase one there will initially be one hotel run by the Jumeirah Group. It will be directly connected to the Harvard Dubai Medical Centre via an underground walkway. The hotel is being built to cater for patients and visitors.

By this I mean if the patient has had day surgery, for example, and needs a day or two to recuperate, the patient can stay at the hotel and be attended by a nurse. The hotel will be built as two connected towers – a hotel tower [short stay] and a residence tower [long stay]. Jointly the towers will have about 800 rooms.

The residence tower will be for families of patients and have small furnished apartments. The hotel should be complete by 2008.

CE:  I presume DHCC will be completely IT networked?
MAH:
Yes. This is important to bring the separate hospitals and clinics into one community. The IT network will integrate all elements of DHCC to transmit radiology images or provide secure access to a patient’s electronic medical records, for example.

The patient will have a smartcard, or something similar, and will not need to carry their files from one physician to the next. This makes the patient experience so much easier.

                                  
                                                     Copyright © 2007 MiddleEastHealthMag.com. All Rights Reserved.