Amid a United Arab Emirates healthcare sector known for its high standards, the Mohamed & Obaid AlMulla Group’s American Hospital Dubai is investing heavily in technology and its people to secure a leadership position.
It is already making strong headway, according to Group CEO Sherif Beshara.
While health care has been pushed to the back burner and left to languish in many countries in recent years, this is not the case in the United Arab Emirates, which has taken a different approach, he tells The CEO Magazine.
"Many years ago, the United Arab Emirates increased capital expenditure in health care and in technology in health care, maybe doubling or tripling it," he says.
The same is true of American Hospital Dubai which was founded in 1996 as part of the group’s healthcare arm with the aim of delivering world-class medical service to the community.
American Hospital, four or five years before the COVID-19 pandemic, had already started investing a lot in technology and AI in health care.
"American Hospital, four or five years before the COVID-19 pandemic, had already started investing a lot in technology and AI in health care," Beshara explains.
So when the pandemic struck, the hospital was "quietly ready".
From day one of the unprecedented health crisis, Beshara and his team decided not to cut any staff or salaries.
We’re preparing the first, second and third line of people to deal with the future using the right technology.
"I also didn’t renegotiate pricing with any suppliers, because from my perspective it was unethical," he says. "We were already in a crisis, so it’s not the right time to put pressure on your supplier like that."
The coming year will see American Hospital forge ahead with a strategic plan it put in place in 2018, with the aim of positioning the hospital as a leader within the region.
Investing in the latest technology is a key part of the plan, as is continued investment in people.
"We partner with many big international institutes to train our people in technology," Beshara says. "We send many people to have courses in AI and health care with Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We partner with Harvard to train our people. We’re preparing the first, second and third line of people to deal with the future using the right technology.
"I never get upset when my staff get head-hunted by many of the healthcare providers within the region because, at the end of the day, they are ambassadors of American Hospital," he continues.
In turn, American Hospital will pass on its newly acquired expertise to other healthcare providers within the region that don’t have the financial capabilities to evolve with the same momentum.
"We aim to support them and teach them, providing them with a different business model so that they can utilize high-tech with the minimum cost," Beshara says.
I never get upset when my staff get head-hunted by many of the healthcare providers within the region because, at the end of the day, they are ambassadors of American Hospital.
As part of this ambition, American Hospital has begun implementing the concept of third-party management, managing other healthcare providers and facilities as part of the American Hospital Care Network.
"We are the first hospital within the Middle East, I believe, that adopted this concept," he says. It’s similar to tier one hospitals in the United States and Europe which have their own accreditation systems.
"When different hospitals meet certain criteria, they can join the American Hospital Care Network and we can provide them with, for example, a second medical opinion and other advice for risk management and quality management," he explains.
A monumental shift
It’s been a steep learning curve for Beshara, who was appointed Group CEO of the Mohamed & Obaid AlMulla Group in 2018 with a solid background of legal expertise but little management experience. The group was transitioning from a family run business to a "proper corporate", he says. He describes the move as both as a brave decision and a huge transformation.
"It’s not a small and easy decision, especially for a family business," he reflects. "It was a very significant change that has already impacted the whole industry."
Both Beshara and the group as a whole have risen to the challenge. For him, the true measure of success does not lie in wealth or status, but rather in how many people he can help and support, whether they are patients, doctors or medical staff.
Very soon, American Hospital will be one of the main leaders as a healthcare provider within the region, and we are very close to that.
"Success for me and the success of my organization is around whether we can make a change to the community," he explains. "If we make a positive change, that’s a success."
It’s a purity of purpose that will help take the hospital to the next level, in line with its ambitions.
"Very soon, American Hospital will be one of the main leaders as a healthcare provider within the region, and we are very close to that," Beshara promises. "American Hospital will change and remap the healthcare industry within the region, bringing the latest technology with the support of Mohamed & Obaid AlMulla. It’s already started."