Over the past several years, Dubai has sought to transform itself in order to attract world travelers. Now, in addition to the tourism sector, focusing on strengthening the Dubai healthcare system to improve care for its citizens and to expand on the existing market of medical tourism is key.
The Ministry of Health is projecting that by 2020, more than one million medical tourists will visit Dubai each year. And, during 2015-2020, the UAE healthcare industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%; with medical tourism being a driving factor. The result of these growths is that UAE medical tourism revenues are forecast to surge to $700 million by 2020.
After improving conditions for tourism and adding many new attractions, Dubai welcomes almost 10 million visitors each year and is considered one of the most popular destination cities in the world.
Now that the tourism sector is well established, medical tourism continues to be the focus, with efforts in place to strengthen the Dubai healthcare system.
Back in April, Dubai launched the Dubai Health Experience; a medical tourism portal that enables international medical tourists to book and prepare for all travel, hospitality, visa and tourism needs before leaving the comfort of their home. They can create/customize their medical/travel package by first booking at any of the 26 private or public hospitals in Dubai. Instead of solely focusing on the Dubai healthcare system the medical tourism portal caters to every aspect of medical travel.
In an article by GulfNews.com it was noted that one of the most important features of the medical tourism portal would be the Patient Bill of Rights and Patient Protection Plan. In order to maintain best practices this plan is offered to any patients undergoing treatment in Dubai. If the patient has a complication following a procedure, then the patient will be able to go back to Dubai and have a revision of the surgery, all at no cost to the patient.
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) also agreed to make the process of obtaining a medical tourism visa a lot more simple in hopes of elevating the influx of foreign patients.
Plastic surgery has always been a key area of interest for medical tourists; Dubai has catered to those needs by ensuring the number of surgeons available to incoming patients.
There is one plastic surgeon per 18,000 residents; compared to the U.S. with one surgeon for 50,000 and Brazil with one for 44,000.
While plastic surgery is a solid specialty that attracts medical tourists, focusing on other specific areas will only increase the in flux of foreign patients. The DHA announced that going forward they will focus on dental care, orthopedics, dermatology, ophthalmology, assisted reproductive techniques and bariatric and weightless surgeries.
While Dubai seems to have everything in place to establish itself as a destination for medical tourism, the cost of healthcare is a recurring factor that must be addressed. Not only is this an issue for incoming medical tourists, but citizens of the UAE are also leaving their homes to find treatment in countries that offer significant savings. In order to jumpstart these efforts, acceptance of global insurance networks will help to expand the reach of those who desire to be treated in the UAE.
About the Author
Nick Hernandez, Founder and CEO of ABISA, a global healthcare consultancy specializing on healthcare strategy and physician engagement, strategic telehealth initiatives, and global oncology initiatives. ABISA can help devise and implement the strategies and processes that will allow organizations to remain competitive and solvent. Contact us at [email protected]
Nick Hernandez will be speaking this year at the World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress.