Building a Global Healthcare Provider: Meeting the Complex Needs of the World Population

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Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
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Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
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The following was originally published in the October 2019 special print edition of Medical Tourism Magazine, which was initially available at the 12th annual World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress in Abu Dhabi.

The mission statement of Cleveland Clinic, drafted nearly 100 years ago, helped to guide the work of doctors at a four-story outpatient building in Cleveland, Ohio, when it first opened its doors to patients in 1921.

Today, it remains a touchstone for more than 60,000 caregivers in an international network that includes a coordinated, multidisciplinary hospital in Abu Dhabi. The statement’s clarity and simplicity has proven to be an essential point of focus across the organization’s global footprint, even as the healthcare industry has faced a growing level of complexity and range of challenges. Keeping a clear central focus – making sure that every process is built around the needs of patients and the wider community – has been one of the main success factors in establishing Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi as the first patient-centered, complex care hospital to operate outside of the United States.

Built to Serve the Community

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a 364-bed acute and critical care hospital in the heart of the UAE capital. Its 14 institutes cover more than 40 medical and surgical specialties that meet the needs of the region’s sickest patients.The hospital has six centers of excellence: Heart & Vascular Institute, Neurological Institute, Digestive Disease Institute, Eye Institute and Respiratory Institute and Critical Care Institute.

It is at the forefront of patient care in the region, guided by its ‘patients first’ approach to care. In addition to its commitment to introducing new and innovative treatments to the region, the hospital is dedicated to providing a world-class patient experience, with every aspect tailored to meet the cultural expectations present in the region.

Encouraging Technological Innovation in Healthcare

A key area of innovation at the hospital is looking at ways to deploy technology to provide patients with access to diagnostic and advisory services from leading medical professionals, wherever they are in the world.

The long-term aim is to move toward a new model of healthcare that enables providers to use their resources and expertise to encourage the whole community to live healthier lives. Healthcare professionals can detect problems earlier and encourage behaviors that reduce the risk of illness and infirmity in the long-term, thereby preventing disease. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has deployed a sophisticated remote cardiac monitoring unit enabling physicians to intervene remotely at the very earliest stages of illness across the region.

Moving to a ‘healthier lives’ model will necessitate more focus on the primary care sector. Seeing a general practitioner once a year will ensure that diseases are detected earlier, diagnosis is more complete, and patients are referred at the appropriate time for subspecialist care. The hospital is working with national and regional regulatory partners toward introducing a referral system where patients are initially seen by a general practitioner before being eferred to a specialist if necessary.Prioritizing collaboration and information exchange in patient careThe ability to collaborate effectively will be a fundamental predictor of success in improving outcomes. Integrating care between medical facilities requires several key steps, including the shift to a single electronic medical record system, inter-facility consultations, and real-time patient monitoring.All Cleveland Clinic facilities have a single, integrated medical records system, allowing care teams to gain a clear understanding of a patient’s medical history across all international locations, whether in Abu Dhabi, Florida, Toronto or Ohio. This seamless integration enables the hospital to offer carefully tailored, personalized care, regardless of where the patient is being treated. Future challenges include developing processes to include other healthcare partners in the best-in-class medical records system, while ensuring top-level data security.

Patients also benefit when multidisciplinary teams meet and consult with their colleagues through video-conferencing and collaborative technology. Such collaboration allows teams of physicians to discuss complex cases, adding another layer of expert evaluation when deciding on how to proceed with treatment. This can be a welcome extra layer for a patient, providing peace of mind that his or her case has had thorough review.

Placing Research at the Heart of an Integrated Healthcare System

A great deal of advanced medical research is conducted in the United States and Europe, studying western populations. This approach has led to an imbalance in the quantity and quality of population data available for certain parts of the world, including the Middle East.

Closing this gap is a priority, with a growing need for a coordinated, multi-agency approach to developing research programs that consider the needs of this region. As a designated human subject research facility, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has partnered with several local institutions to conduct population health studies and support core research in the region.

Last year, clinician scientists at the hospital published more than 200 peer-reviewed academic medical papers, reporting on innovative treatments administered at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi along with the outcomes of those procedures. Many caregivers at the hospital are also thought leaders in their fields and are known globally for their work.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi continues to expand its educational facilities, which now include a full range of post-graduate opportunities from physician internships to residencies and fellowships. The hospital welcomed its first cohort of physician interns in 2017 and launched specialist residency training programs in 2018.

Sustaining the Foundations of Care

In conclusion, as the world becomes more closely connected, and the population ever more global, healthcare provision will continue to change dramatically. The formulation of strategic priorities that highlight future investment in innovation, research and the ethical use of healthcare data, will align around the shared goal of providing world-class care to an increasing number of lives globally.

Change presents opportunities for high quality, specialized care providers to make a global impact, building the hubs that will deliver a new form of preventative, connected and community-focused care. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi stands ready to work with a broad range of local, regional and international partners to build a truly global healthcare offering.