Medical Tourism Strategies in Dubai Reach for Stars
Everything in Dubai appears to be a big deal.
If that's not impressive enough, what about the sprawling power and desalination plant that churns out 8,000 megawatts of electricity and 550 million gallons of freshwater each day or the world's most-visited mall, a temperature controlled city that houses 1,200 retail outlets and 200 food and beverage vendors, that helps to make the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates — by most accounts — larger than life.
Dubai has a reputation for doing everything bigger, brasher and — we like to say better, said Nadim Zidam, founder and managing director of Hollywood Stars, a leisure and medical tourism company just a stone's throw away from the 42-story Tiffany Tower in the heart of the city's business district.
Medical tourism facilitators like Hollywood Stars, which connects international patients to procedures and treatments anywhere in the world, are critical to the success of health tourism in Dubai, said Renée-Marie Stephano, President of the Medical Tourism Association.
Trust and dedication to personal attention is essential to any successful medical travel relationship, said Zidam, a member of the Medical Tourism Association. We arrange travel, lodging and ensure that our overseas patients are connected with highly qualified doctors at some of the most advanced facilities that medical care has to offer — anything a patient needs to achieve a healthy, comfortable and financially satisfying experience.
Smart Hospital Planned
Health and tourism officials in Dubai are outdoing themselves not to disappoint. The city hopes to attract 500,000 medical tourism patients annually and generate up to Dh2.6 billion in revenue in the next five years.
As part of this strategy, the government unveiled plans to build a Dh1 billion smart hospital and medical university that will, when completed in 2019, house 300 beds across 150,000 square meters in a free-zone park.
Fakeeh Academic Medical Centre, which will feature robotic surgery and an automated medication-dispensing system, is one of 22 new hospitals planned for construction by 2020. To cope with the anticipated elevated stream of patients, the government has slashed some of the red tape that constricts international physicians from practicing in Dubai.
Dr. Ramadan Al Blooshi, Managing Director, Dubai Healthcare City- Regulatory, said the visiting physician license, which will display credentials and past performance data, will enable specialists to practice in the city for up to one month at a time.
The timeline to license a professional is two to three months, on average, but can take up to nine months, Dr. Al Blooshi told The National. You have to check everything, from certificates to good standing, exam qualifications and title. Because it can take a long time to approve, it puts off some top specialists from coming to Dubai for work.
Internationally recognized physicians are beginning to find their way to Dubai, which has staked claim to groundbreaking procedures that included a four-joint replacement surgery performed simultaneously on the hip and knee; and a minimally invasive procedure to repair a severely damaged aorta in a 27-year-old accident victim all within the past month. Still another breakthrough involved two corrective operations to replace a diseased aorta with an artificial graft.
Patients traveling to Dubai will find an easier route as well once they are able to obtain medical tourism insurance, both in-bound and outbound, for some procedures and treatments.
We are working with all relevant stakeholders to streamline the medical tourism initiative for the Emirate, Essa Al Maidoor, told the Khaleej Times. The introduction of this insurance will help provide 360-degree comprehensive care to medical tourists and, therefore, we are presently studying the viability of such an insurance scheme.
The medical tourism insurance will cover additional expenses in the event of complications for up to three months following the
initial procedure or treatment, said Dr. Layla Al Marzouqi, acting director of health regulations for the Dubai Health Authority and
director of the Dubai medical tourism initiative.
If the patient needs to return within three months to correct unsuccessful surgery/procedure or post-operative complication, the policy will cover medical expenses including flights toward the return trip and accommodations, said Dr. Al Marzouqi.
Hello to Bollywood
Dubai's medical travel initiative is part of a larger vision to attract some 20 million tourists overall to the Emirate by 2020. The company behind construction of Legoland Dubai and related theme parks including Motiongate Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai expects to attract 6.7 million of those visitors when the parks open in October 2016.
Dubai Parks and Resorts, a unit of Meraas Holdings, said the projects will generate Dh2.4 billion in the first year of operation, create 5,000 new jobs and challenge the economic contribution of some of Dubai iconic symbols and attractions.
Hotel and wellness options that combine additional benefits like the mall, which welcomed more than 80 million visitors last year are giving medical tourism patients more bang for their buck, said Zidam. Fierce competition requires that medical tourism facilitators keep pace with the destinations they feature. Our packages are constantly evolving to meet demands, attract new
medical tourism patients and make their stay more enjoyable and comfortable.