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Speaker Interview

Dr. Asma Al Mannaei, Director, Healthcare Quality, Department of Health, Abu Dhabi & Member of DOH Executive Committee

As Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DOH) continues to make strides in delivering better quality care and build a culture of patient experience excellence, what are some of the challenges faced with regards to the implementation of patient experience assessment and what initiatives have been taken to transform patient experience?
Over the years, we have seen patient experience evolve and further improve everyday. In fact, the Abu Dhabi healthcare sector has successfully maintained the highest ranking in the patient satisfaction survey for the past consecutive four years compared to other global leaders in health with a score of 8.57 in 2017. With every passing year, we continue developing and revising our strategies to better enhance patient experience.

As the regulator for healthcare in Abu Dhabi, one of the main challenges was setting a stringent framework that encompasses all aspects of quality, including patient experience. So in 2014, we successfully launched Jawda, the Abu Dhabi Healthcare Quality Index (ADHQI) with an aim to drive continuous improvement in quality of healthcare that puts patients at the centre of care. We developed a set of indicators to evaluate the quality of healthcare services, where patient safety and patient satisfaction were set as key indicators in the assessment process. Through an independent provider, we gathered information about the patient perception and experiences using internationally validated questionnaires that helped us identify areas of improvement in patient safety and clinical effectiveness. The framework was successful not only because of insights like this, but because it also helped promote the culture of quality among health facilities, encouraging many to better their quality of care and compete to deliver innovative healthcare solutions.

In the pursuit of improving hospital performance in healthcare service delivery, what are some of the approaches initiated by DOH?

Hospital performance improvements is perhaps the overarching area of focus when it comes to quality assessment. It encompasses patient safety, mortality, waiting times and effectiveness of delivery of care. DoH Healthcare Quality team devised the quality assurance framework aligning it with successful global best practices. Keeping in mind the fast-changing trends and emerging changes in the healthcare sector, the framework is continuously updated to fit with the current market needs. Technology is also facilitating the monitoring and reporting of the quality index, making it easier and more convenience to continuously update the index results. Having the results of the quality index readily available for health providers and the public, has promoted transparency in the sector, which resulted in health providers becoming more accountable for their service delivery. There are also plans to establish a DOH accreditation process to acknowledge the good performing facilities and encourage more improvements across other facilities.

What are some of the initiatives taken by Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DOH) in its efforts to implement Artificial Intelligence in health care, and how is the adoption of AI going to affect healthcare practices and address key patient experience issues?

Artificial intelligence is on the key priority plans in the next years, as we set out to transform the healthcare sector to become more digitalised and patient-centric. DoH is revolutionising the Emirate’s healthcare system with cutting-edge technology, sophisticated telemedicine and AI-enabled disease management systems to enable seamless and streamlined services for more patient-centric care deliver. Most recently, we have started our Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Innovation programme with a number of projects under development including the first AI-enabled health coach app as well as a Virtual Assistant chatbot that will be designed to ease the licensing and registration process for healthcare providers in the capital. The project’s prototypes are expected to be completed by early next year. 

How do you think this symposium will impact healthcare providers in their aim to achieve px excellence and drive towards ‘patient centricity’, and why is such a platform important for the healthcare sector in the region?

The healthcare market is a competitive market and health providers require continuous update on its progress regionally and globally. The symposium is an ideal meeting point for healthcare professionals and providers to come together and discuss new strategies and ideas that will serve the benefit of the sector. It also offers the opportunity for knowledge-exchange and the sharing of success stories between partners in the region.