Dubai's ongoing health tourism strategy is taking off
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is continuing its work to drive up health tourism figures in order to further cement its presence as a leader within the industry. From implementing smart medical records, to upskilling medical professionals in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), it aims to be a leader across the entire healthcare industry.
Over 326,000 health tourists visited the country in 2016, a figure which is set to rise. Accumulating over AED1 billion, the country is placing significant investment in new healthcare facilities, technology and medical training in order to provide world-class patient care.
Attracting skilled medical professionals worldwide, the country is set to hold the first Dubai International Medical Tourism forum next month, which will entail how the country is set to further transform its services to further drive positive patient experiences, increase safety and guarantee exceptional patient care.
Set to attract over 30 local and international hospitals, the Forum will further highlight how the health insurance sector will play a key part in supporting the country’s operations both nationally and internationally, in addition to how new digital tools will enable the ongoing growth of its consumer-healthcare model.
Dr Layla Al Marzouqi, Director of Medical Tourism at the DHA, said, “The aim of the event is to review our achievements and to discuss and collect recommendations on our Strategy for Health tourism 2017 – 2021 in order to create the synergy between both the private and government sectors.
“Dubai is a leading health tourism destination. DHA recently announced a growth of 9.5% over 2015 on the number of international medical tourists who availed health services in Dubai.”
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At present, Dubai has up to 3,000 private hospitals, a number which is expected to rise significantly, along with public hospitals.
However, historically it has been a complex process for tourists to obtain a visa into Dubai. The Health Tourism Council has therefore worked to streamline this process to enable tourists to obtain a health visa within 48 hours, which can be renewed through presenting a medical report.
Putting the control back into a patient’s hand has been key to Dubai’s healthcare strategy, Dubai Health Experience. The development of its health tourism portal DXH.ae, provides a charter of a patient’s rights and responsibilities, and sees up to 10,000 monthly visits by users looking for information surrounding various medical treatments. The launch of the DXH mobile app also enables patients to look up information surrounding healthcare packages, anytime, anywhere.
"We are broadening the health tourism’s portfolio to position Dubai as a holistic wellness provider. For instance, the emergence of projects like The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel, the first holistic wellbeing resort in the Middle East, is adding another edge to Dubai’s offerings in the health tourism sector,” added Al Marzouqi.
Linda Abdullah, consultant, the Health Tourism Council at DHA, also stated: We have recently broadened our portfolio to include health and wellness, in order to attract the tourists seeking a holistic wellness experience.
"We want health tourists to embrace their wellness journey in the city of Dubai, via our wellness offerings that include preventive health screenings, DNA tests, detox and weight loss programmes, anti-aging treatments, diabetes management and alternative medicines to name few."
Walmart, the next health tech giant - a timeline
Retail giant Walmart has been building its healthcare division for a number of years, but its recent acquisition of a telehealth firm and the slow down of its clinic expansion suggest its focus has now shifted to health tech. We look at key moments in Walmart's history in healthcare.
Walmart announces plans to provide "full primary care services" by 2020. The plans include opening clinics in underserved, urban areas, where the chain has many existing stores.
A series of “Healthcare Begins Here” events launch at Walmart stores, where consumers are given information on leading healthy lives, as well as free blood pressure, blood glucose and vision screenings, and access to vaccinations.
As part of the organisation's commitment to pursue a more data-centric approach to worker safety, Walmart partners with StrongArm, manufacturers of safety wearables. Staff begin wearing FUSE, a small sensor worn between their shoulder blades that detects injury risk. Within a year, ergonomic injuries decreased by 65%.
Walmart opens its first health centre in Dallas. The 10,000 square-foot "super centre" offers primary care, X-rays and ECG, counselling, dental, optical, hearing and community health services. Prices are affordable regardless of health insurance status.
The same year a partnership with Doctor on Demand is announced, a telehealth company offering mental health services. As part of the agreement Walmart employees are able to access these services for free.
The first health and wellness clinic opens in Springdale, Arkansas, providing primary care, dental care, vision and hearing services as well as behavioural health, fitness and wellness education classes.
Walmart acquires CareZone’s medication management technology. CareZone's app reminds users to take their medication and provides refill reminders. The acquisition complements Walmart's existing pharmacy service.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart is in talks with Verizon to implement 5G wireless service in select sites, to help boost digital health services.
As part of its COVID-19 response, drive-thru testing is offered at hundreds of Walmart Neighborhood Market drive-thru pharmacy sites, free of charge through Humana .
The retail giant teams up with the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer telehealth services to veterans at stores in Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa.
Walmart Mexico signs a deal with Jack Nathan Medical Corp, a Canadian tech-focused healthcare provider. This will see 153 new medical clinics open within stores across Mexico, taking the total in the country to 203.
Walmart announces it is acquiring MeMD, a multi-speciality telehealth provider. The acquisition will enable Walmart Health to provide access to virtual care across the US. At the same time it is reported that plans to open further clinics are deliberately slowing down.
"Today people expect omnichannel access to care, and adding telehealth to our Walmart Health care strategies allows us to provide in-person and digital care across our multiple assets and solutions" Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president for Health & Wellness said of the announcement.