Focusing the future

Dr. Ibtesam AlBastaki, Director of the Investments & PPPs Department, DHA

1. The Dubai Health Investment Guide comes very handy for potential investors. The gap analysis with the facilities is very helpful too, but to maintain uniformity among the investors how the DHA is going to market this program across the various private facility providers (to fill-in the gap)? Do you have facility specific promotion programs?

Thank you, DHA is working continuously to inform investors on the gaps and health system needs for Dubai through the Health Investment Guide 2019, and we are currently developing a Certificate of Needs Guidelines for Dubai, the purpose of which is to channel investments in priority areas to meet the needs of our community.

The initiative is aimed at:

• Supporting and guiding investments of the “right” caliber to deliver high - quality services as per best-in-class international standards
• Limiting overcapacity of specialized services and protecting investments into these services
• Ensuring stability and sustainability of quality of care by service providers through supporting enhanced reimbursement (where necessary), empanelment with insurance cos. and other commercial incentives

2. Can you throw some light on the new health facility guidelines that are laid down by Health regulation sector? What has changed in the newer version?

The new Health Facilities Guidelines have been revised and updated and these have been benchmarked to best practices in other parts of the world. The Guidelines are more comprehensive in scope, patient focused, and have been developed after considerable research to ensure that we have modern and efficient planning principles on administrative provisions, efficient design, access/ mobility and safety for both new public and private facilities. More information on this initiative is available in the Dubai Health Investment Guide 2019 and on the DHA portal.

3. Could you explain in short the licensing process for a new healthcare facility in Dubai?

Setting up a health facility in Dubai is an easy and smooth process, optimised by digital procedures. Investors wishing to open a health facility in the Emirate of Dubai and/or one of its free zones will follow a different journey, based on the nature of their project (new constructions vs. refurbishments/ expansions). Detail process maps are available in the Dubai Health Investment Guide 2019, for health facilities and hospitals/clinics, for both new construction and refurbishment / expansion projects. In any case, on new hospitals in planning stages it is advised to first get in touch with DHA Investment and PPPs Department, which will be able to provide guidance and advice throughout the process.

4. With the mandatory health insurance framework in place, how do you think it boosts the healthcare ecosystem in Dubai, does it presents any hurdles for the prospective investors?

Dubai’s health sector has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, with number of licensed health facilities growing to 3,100 by April 2018 from approximately 2,800 facilities in 2014 with an approximate year-over-year growth of four per cent. This increase includes private hospitals, specialised health centres, pharmacies, diagnostic centres and dental centres.

The growth we see is supported by a rise in population, rising utilization of health services specifically in the private sector, the implementation of mandatory health insurance which has seen approximately 98% of Dubai’s resident population covered by health insurance (as of 3 September 2018), and an increase in healthcare spending due to growing confidence in the health system and improved access to specialized health services in the Emirate of Dubai.

Increase in demand for quality health services due to Dubai’s rapid urban development, population growth and influx of medical tourists is one of biggest opportunities for private sector providers and investors in the health sector.

Many of world’s largest hospitals and specialized centres have invested in Dubai’s healthcare sector after realizing the city’s unique investment  climate, which provides a number of investment incentives in the healthcare sector. Investors and providers would need to study and better understand the different segments of population covered by different types of insurance packages. There are differences to the limits on health spending, coverage of services and access to a network of providers that is linked to the type of insurance coverage plan, which is often customized to the needs of the population segments and the employers.

5. What is Dubai Healthcare City and how does it fit itself in the Dubai health investment program?

Dubai Healthcare City Authority is a free zone home to clinical partners including hospitals, outpatient medical centres and diagnostic laboratories across 160 specialities with licensed professionals, strengthening the free zone’s medical tourism portfolio. Dubai Healthcare City Authority has  numerous advantages for investors in healthcare, such as 100% ownership for both expatriates and UAE Nationals. More information on Dubai Healthcare City Authority is available in the Dubai Health Investment Guide 2019.

6. What is Dubai science park and what will be its role in health investment program?

Dubai Science Park (DSP) fosters an environment that supports scientific research, creativity and innovation for the life sciences and health sector. Since its inception, the community has grown to more than 350 companies, employing over 3,600 professionals in the sciences, energy and environmentalsectors. DSP has numerous advantages for investors in life sciences and healthcare related sectors, such as:

• 100% foreign ownership and repatriation of profits and capital
• Exemption from customs duty for goods and services
• No trade barriers or quotas
• Strong regulatory framework
• More information on Dubai Healthcare City Authority is available in the Dubai Health Investment Guide 2019.

7. How the government has aligned its various policies to attract positive health program investments from desired regions?

At DHA engage with stakeholders across Government and the Private Sector to support a positive and thriving investment climate that fosters private sector investment and participation. Through Government investment promotion agencies such as Dubai FDI and other DHA led efforts at events regionally, we engage with investors and stakeholders on health system needs and opportunities, and through our upcoming Certificate of Needs Guidelines and other initiatives we will continue to support, facilitate and promote strategic investments in healthcare for Dubai.

H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai has emphasized and laid the foundations for investment and growth in the health sector – “Our aim is to attract investments that benefit the emirate and the community via an investment strategy in the health sector in line with the emirate’s aspirations to provide a healthy global model that also meets with the objectives of the Dubai Plan 2021”

The Dubai Health Investment Guide, a key initiative of the Dubai Health Investment Strategy 2017-21, aimed at providing investors and private sector health facilities with information on investment priorities and gaps as well as mapping of the investor journey for health investments, key developments in the health sector and to highlight the drivers that underpin investment and growth in the health sector in Dubai.

The drive to establish advanced medical capabilities and modern infrastructure and facilities in the city make Dubai an attractive destination for private sector investment which also supports Dubai’s ambition to grow in profile as the leading medical tourism destination in the Middle East.

8. What are the aims of the Dubai Health Investment Guide and what is the rationale behind this initiative?

The over arching aim of the Dubai Health Investment Guide is to provide investors with real time, reliable and robust information on demand for health services, supply and capacity gaps, and to enable investments in strategic opportunities and specialized health services. This benefits Dubai’s economy and the health sector, as it helps optimize and balance the supply of health services, informing investors clearly about areas of overcapacity, and quantifying the gaps where investment is needed. The Dubai Health Investment Guide is broken up into different segments and it –

• Details the drivers underpinning the growth of healthcare demand in the Emirate of Dubai which includes the growing population, strong and diversified economy, stable and attractive investment climate, rising burden of disease and prevalence of chronic diseases, rise in health tourism among others
• Provides an overview of health regulations and the health insurance system which includes upcoming changes and initiatives relevant to investors
• Maps the investment journey for different types of facilities
• Highlights the investment needs and priorities for outpatient care units, acute inpatient beds and specialized services including long term care and critical care beds for 2020, 2025 and 2030 based on the Dubai Clinical Services Capacity Plan 2018-2030
• Provides details on free zones in Dubai focused on supporting healthcare and life sciences

9. What are the opportunities in the healthcare ecosystem in Dubai that are identified by the Dubai Health Investment Guide?

In the short term, 3-4 years have needs along the continuum of care – to develop and enhance services for chronic disease management, developing Centers of Excellence for Cardiology, Oncology, Diabetes and other specialties, to enhance and improve access to long term care, physical rehabilitation and home based care particularly to support the needs of the elderly and others with special needs in our Emirate, and to enhance and improve access to mental health services

In the long term, we want to focus much more on population health management, value based care supported by better clinical outcomes and efficiency for the health system, improvements and adoption of genetic medicine and precision medicine, and beyond the pill initiatives.

We are very focused on supporting the emergence of urgent care clinics, ambulatory care, specialized centers for different diseases and specialties and the use of telehealth in primary care and remote patient monitoring.

DHA’s investment focus for the next 2 to 3 years

• Innovations in primary care
• Ambulatory care
• Urgent care clinics
• Mental Health
• Chronic Disease Management
• Tertiary Care for diabetes, cardiology and oncology
• Diagnostic Health and Remote Monitoring
• Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
• Home-based care
• Long-term and extended care

DHA’s investment focus for the next 3 to 5 years

• Prevention and Pharmacy beyond-the-pill
• Precision Medicine and Genetics
• Population Health Management
• Nursing Homes and Palliative Care

--Issue 45--

Author Bio

Dr. Ibtesam AlBastaki

Dr. Ibtesam Al Bastaki is the Director of Health Investments & PPP’s Dept. in DHA. In career spanning over 21 years in healthcare in the UAE, Dr. Ibtesam has held senior leadership positions in Dubai Health Authority, Prime Minister’s Office and VPS Healthcare focusing on strategy planning and implementation, investment planning and facilitation, driving innovation, health system reform, public – private partnerships and private sector business development and medical tourism, spearheading the set up and expansion of health facilities and services in both public and private sector

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