What to expect for the future of Dubai’s healthcare sector
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What to expect for the future of Dubai’s healthcare sector

The healthcare market in Dubai has seen several significant changes in recent years, such as the implementation of universal health insurance. In this article, UAE Medical Insurance looks at what to expect for the future of Dubai’s healthcare sector.

The UAE is one of the fastest growing healthcare markets within the GCC region. By 2018, the UAE healthcare sector is forecasted to reach USD 18.6 billion in total value, and the total number of beds is projected to increase from 19,811 in 2014 to 21,357 in 2018. The factors contributing to this tremendous growth are manifold. One primary factor is the implementation of universal health insurance in several emirates. In Dubai, the introduction of mandatory health insurance has meant that more than 4 million people are now insured - that’s 98% of the population!

Growing demand for medical care in the region is also a key driver of growth in the healthcare sector. This increase in demand is partially attributed to population growth, whereby the UAE population is expected to reach 10.98 million by 2030. The ageing population and shifts in lifestyle habits are also driving the growth in demand for general, geriatric, and specialist care, as these factors have been linked to an increased prevalence of several chronic conditions, including diabetes.

As such, it has become a matter of utmost importance for the UAE to improve and grow their healthcare infrastructure, and this has been highlighted in the UAE’s national agenda - Vision 2021. As the UAE’s second largest emirate, Dubai is expected to play a significant role in aligning their healthcare strategy with UAE’s vision for the future.

Dubai Healthcare Strategy 2016-21

The Dubai Healthcare Strategy 2016-21 was created with the goal of aligning Dubai’s healthcare sector with the goals covered in the UAE Vision 2021, which aims to establish world class healthcare by achieving several key targets by 2021:

  • Reduce the number of cardiovascular deaths from 297.6 deaths per 100,000 population in 2012 to 158.2 deaths per 100,000 population by 2021.
  • Lower the prevalence of diabetes from 19.02% in 2014 to 16.28% by 2021.
  • Lower the prevalence of obesity among children from 13.17% in 2014 to 12% by 2021.
  • Increase the average healthy life expectancy from 67 years in 2013 to 73 years by 2021.

To align Dubai’s healthcare strategy with these targets, the Dubai Healthcare Strategy 2016-21 encompasses 93 initiatives with two main focus points:

  • To improve primary and urgent care by optimizing hospital services in order to deal with medical emergencies more efficiently.
  • To combat lifestyle diseases through ongoing initiatives to educate the public on prevention and lifestyle medicines.

New medical university in Dubai

To meet growing demand for healthcare, Dubai is focusing on increasing the supply of quality medical professionals. In September 2016, the first cohort of undergraduate students enrolled into the Mohammed bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Science (MBRU). As Dubai’s first co-ed college of medicine, MBRU is affiliated with a number renowned colleges worldwide, such as the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the American Heart Association.

By focusing on increasing the availability of quality medical education in Dubai, it is expected that establishing new educational institutions such as MBRU will not only contribute to the supply of medical professionals, but will also foster a thriving medical community and move Dubai on the path towards becoming the next big medical research hub.

Technological advancements in healthcare

Hospitals in Dubai are increasingly eager to adopt smart technologies in order to improve various aspects of patient care, such as remote imaging and diagnostic services. The use of smart technologies is however still in its infancy, and there are still several challenges that hospitals will have to overcome over the next few years, including the difficulty in finding staff that are trained to work with these new technologies.

The future of big data

As healthcare providers increasingly integrate their services with electronic infrastructure, the big volumes of valuable data generated is expected to pose a number of analytical opportunities for Dubai in the years to come.

We looked at this in our recent article on big data, which also highlighted the changes that have already taken place in addressing lifestyle diseases in Dubai. In particular, the article looked at how the sheer volume of claims data collected as a result of Dubai’s mandatory health insurance proved to be instrumental in defining national diabetes guidelines.

An increasingly mature healthcare market

By the end of June 2016, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) rolled out the last phase of the mandatory health insurance scheme on companies with less than 100 employees, including dependents, spouses, and domestic workers. Now that the final phase has been implemented, Dubai is now truly under a new insurance-driven healthcare model, and this is expected to drive the sector’s maturity in the years to come.

For example, doctors will now need to take into account the likelihood of receiving reimbursements from insurers based on the treatment provided to their patients. This will help optimize the type and frequency of treatment chosen by medical professionals, as there may have been a tendency in the past to over-prescribe medications. Now that the final phase of mandatory health insurance is complete, the DHA hopes that continued collaboration between insurers and healthcare providers will promote an increasingly sustainable healthcare sector.

If you’re looking for health insurance advice in the UAE, you’ve come to the right place! Our experienced advisors are on hand to help with any questions you may have regarding medical insurance, so be sure to contact our experts today.


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