Corniche Hospital: Putting families first through patient-centered care
Stablished in 1978, Corniche Hospital has become the largest maternity hospital in Abu Dhabi, with outstanding clinical leaders and staff, incorporating world-class facilities to ensure the delivery of patient centered care. Winning multiple awards, the family-focused hospital has cemented its position within the region, incorporating a number of specialty clinics, in addition to housing the largest Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the country.
Corniche Hospital serves patients from many countries and backgrounds, and employees from 60 different nationalities, making it truly unique. To enhance communication, teamwork and cultural sensitivity, staff regularly meet to celebrate and share different cultures or practices, enabling the hospital to effectively work as one.
Linda Clark, Chief Executive Officer and Deputy CEO Dr. Fayeza Nasir jointly manage the hospital, to include oversight of day-to-day operations, budgeting and supervision of all activities, balancing the need to reflect a key focus on family-centered care, always with working in line with the vision and values of the SEHA Health System. Clinically, Corniche Hospital also is responsible for coordinating the Obstetrics and Gynaecology service line, coordinating services across the SEHA system. In order to provide a seamless service, the 183-bed hospital collaborates with five other SEHA hospitals, a network of government hospitals in the emirate of Abu Dhabi which deliver babies, holding regular meetings with them to coordinate a smooth provision of transition of services. A public-private collaboration was established two years ago, where Corniche meets with CEOs, CMOs and the CNOs from other large women’s centres to look for ways to improve care within a number of areas, whilst coordinating common standards and education across both sectors, previously not in place within the region.
All staff are effectively trained in improving the patient’s experience, with a key of value of “Ihsan” demonstrating kindness and caring. One example of this is the integration of Nurse midwives or the Shared Care model at Corniche has also set the hospital apart from other maternity hospitals. Clark explains: “In this part of the world, midwives don’t traditionally deliver babies, but they do at Corniche,” putting women at ease throughout their labour and delivery. The leadership’s dedication to the hospital has enabled a number of transformations, such as the ability for new fathers to stay with their wives post-delivery, something previously unseen in Abu Dhabi, which has created a positive outcome not only for mother and baby, but also the father and family unit. Dr Al Nasir explains: “In the beginning people were hesitant to start this practice, but actually the patients and families love it, and we have many dads staying with their wives at the hospital post-delivery.” Other family members such as grandmothers, sisters and aunties are also welcomed.
Patients which are deemed ‘high-risk’ are sent to Corniche as a result of its exceptional staff and services, at which both Clark and Dr Nasir agree that the hospital is viewed as a “safety net” to their sister hospital facilities, impacting on the space available at the hospital. Dr Nasir explains: “What we do is collaborate with other hospitals in the network and sometimes the private sector in order to accommodate these increased numbers.” With a licensed capacity of 64 neonatal cots, the hospital averages approximately 75 NICU babies on any given day, highlighting a significant ongoing challenge the hospital faces. Clark concludes that there has also been an increased need for neonatal and intensive care in the region recently, partly due to the unprecedented increase in IVF, and the hospital is working with other hospitals to find ways in which to overcome this challenge.
Nonetheless, Corniche has renovated its facilities to meet the patient’s expectations, and compete with the private sector, which includes the implementation of private rooms for women postpartum. The hospital will be completing a large number of renovation works within the next 12 months, updating the labour and delivery ward and operating rooms (OR’s) to ensure they are fit for purpose and can work effectively in spite of increased demands. Clark explains: “For the last 10-15 years’, other hospitals have expanded their obstetrics service. Over the years, we opened the first neonatal unit, added advanced technologies and other services to support maternity and new-born care, but there is still much to be done”. However, these renovation works are to be completed in stages in order to reduce disruption to clinical service delivery. “As new technologies and services evolve, we’ve been able to update and modernise our facility,” concludes Clark.
Both Clark and Dr Nasir are enthusiastic on modernising the hospital and introducing new technologies to support ongoing clinical demand. The initiation of the Corniche Fertility Centre has enabled Corniche to provide in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and reproductive medicine. Clark explains: “Corniche was originally built at a time when maternity care was delivered very differently. There were very few C-sections and there was not in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) for example...” As a result of these innovations, an increased number of women have since visited Corniche to tap into these high-quality services.
By modernising services and placing an emphasis on clinical education and development, the hospital has also been successful in delivering a number of complex surgeries, such as laser therapy for twin-to-twin transfusion and has gained the ability to perform procedures on babies in utero, highlighting its commitment to medical innovation, all whilst embedding high patient quality and safety standards. To align with the hospital’s patient centric approach, Corniche has been certified for over 10 years as ‘Baby Friendly’ by the World Health Organisation, with a focus on the importance of breast feeding, supporting mother and baby for better health. However, both Clark and Dr Al Nasir are aware that not every pregnancy is successful, there can be complications. In the past, there has been little support available for women who miscarry or lose their baby. To this end, Corniche has created a bereavement clinic, “Al Amal Clinic”, run by an obstetrician and midwife in order to provide effective, ongoing support for women who need it.
Not only is Corniche Hospital committed to education and development for its medical staff, but also to providing patient centered services through educating expectant parents through its Parent Education Centre. The facility successfully allows for the communication with couples and provides valued information and support, focusing on both mother and father’s needs. The hospital also provides support to young women who are getting married, and are preparing for pregnancy – Pre-conception Clinic.
Further, Corniche Hospital’s recent move from the Patient Safety Network to Datix highlights its ongoing commitment to deliver the best service and patient centered initiatives whilst embedding the safest, highest quality of care and support of staff. Clark explains: “We focus on the culture of safety - our process is to encourage staff to report any near miss or potential harm, so we can try to evaluate, revise and resolve the situation before any other harm comes to a patient or staff member.” In addition to being reaccredited for the fourth time by Joint Commission International (JCI) and acquiring a number of numerous accreditations encompassing international standards. The hospital benchmarks internationally with the Vermont Oxford database for Neonatology, comparing themselves with other neonatal intensive care units around the world and striving to always advance our practice and improve our outcomes.
To ensure Corniche Hospital continually provides exceptional care, world-class training and education is provided, at which Corniche has become the first hospital outside the UK to be accredited as a training site for the ATSM programs by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG). Clark explains: “Training is a critical part of Corniche and it starts with residency - we have Obstetrics and Gynaecology residents and neonatal fellows.”
Benchmarking against international standards, such as American College of Graduate Medical Education and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has cemented the hospital’s outstanding reputation within Abu Dhabi. It is compulsory for all medical staff to undertake multi-disciplinary advanced emergency management training such as PROMPT (Obstetrics) and NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation) Corniche has a purpose-built Simulation Center, which has provided a unique opportunity for the hospital to train professionals in a number of modern and advanced ways. The hospital’s technologies have also enabled staff to work with computerised patients which simulate different real-life experiences as one.
Through its continued success and commitment in a number of areas, Corniche faces challenges as other hospitals, such as the ability to recruit talented staff in a number of specialities. However, Clark adds: “Fortunately, because of our reputation we’ve been able to recruit a very strong team of Consultants and medical staff”, making the hospital a very attractive place to work. The hospital strives to provide unique services to the community, but also caters to patients’ increased needs and expectations. Once renovation works are fully complete, in addition placing an increased focus on patient experience, clinical quality and education, Corniche Hospital will become stronger than ever in Abu Dhabi.
How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats
One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority. In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.
The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics.
From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world.
The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years.
This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate.
Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.
To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care.
Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change.
It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device.
These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.
Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement:
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.
In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.
Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents.
Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.
This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents.
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.
Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.
As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.
Fighting future threats
With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.
To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced.
This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.