Aysha Ibrahim Ahmed AlReyaysa, Director, Patient Relations, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City Ajman (SKMCA) interacts with Dr Erik Wassberg, CEO, SKMC and Tobias Lineback, CEO, GHP International Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

The UAE values its people as the real wealth of the nation and ensuring their health and well-being is critical. In line with that came the initiatives from His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, to achieve the aspirations of his nation, which in healthcare included the establishment of world-class hospitals.

In accordance with the Cabinet Decree of 2016, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City Ajman (SKMCA) was brought under the supervision of The Medical Office at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs with an aim to create a system that guarantees access to integrated healthcare services to Nationals and residents in various parts of the country. In executing its mission, Global Health Patner (GHP) was chosen to operate SKMCA, with a key mission to provide the highest standard of health care to Ajman community and the people of Emirates.

Ensuring patient-centred care

SKMCA, a medical facility comprising of 220+ beds, delivers specialty care to all patients that come through its doors. Since 2017 patient volumes have been growing reaching a considerable number of patient visits with numbers approaching 350,000 per year— an impressive figure equaling two thirds of Ajman’s population — making SKMCA a cornerstone of the community, providing a vital service in both routine and emergency medical care.

We are operating while being mindful of the UAE culture so we need to be adoptive, but in a sensitive way. For me this is really a joint venture between Sweden and the Emirati population

- Dr Erik Wassberg, CEO, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City

Four separate, yet inter-collaborative hospital facilities make up the SKMCA multidisciplinary complex — Sheikh Khalifa Hospital Masfoot, Sheikh Khalifa Hospital — Women and Children, Sheikh Khalifa Hospital – General and Rashid Centre for Diabetes and Research.

Dr Erik Wassberg, CEO, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City says, “This has been very challenging but also extremely rewarding. I would best describe it as a change project. We took over a facility and its staff during its transition from one ministry to another ministry. We also recruited an equal amount of new staff because dealing with healthcare you need to have high competency to reach good medical outcomes. Swedish consultants and nurses, and doctors from T1 countries were also employed.

“A lot of investment of resources has been made on refurbishing facilities and replacing and upgrading to modern medical equipment, introducing different ways of measuring quality and outcome. Patient safety was the most important thing to focus on first. Second was ensuring good medical quality and outcome. It was also important to have good processes and systems to ensure continuous improvement, hinging on the motto, ‘everyday a little bit better’. To achieve our vision to become the patients’ first choice we had to take small steps in the right direction every day,” he adds.

Team work and training

Dr Wassberg is emphatic about the role team work plays at SKMCA in ensuring success. “SKMCA brings knowledge and experience from Sweden, one of the top ranked countries in the world for quality healthcare. We are operating while being mindful of the UAE culture so we need to be adoptive, but in a sensitive way. For me this is really a joint venture between Sweden and the Emirati population.”

SKMCA understands its responsibility to educate the staff, offering them clinical education while also providing the opportunity to go to Sweden and learn at the collaborative Swedish university hospitals. Administrative and managerial training sessions are also conducted. “It is true that we have a responsibility to deliver excellent healthcare to the community, but it is equally important that we have a responsibility to educate and train the Emirati staff. As I see it, we are long term guests in the country and my satisfaction is not individualistic, it is when the project succeeds.

“This will reflect in our excellent healthcare, good quality system and medical outcomes, which includes the Emiratis growing in their different roles,” he added.

Our vision – To be the Patients’ first choice

“Looking at the hospitals now compared to three years ago, the changes have been enormous in all areas — major clinical achievements, recruitment of competence, facility refurbishment, investment in modern medical equipment, new policies and clinical guidelines, a transparent quality system, improved medical outcomes and team work.

“In order to reach our vision – Patients’ first choice – It is important that the patient who enters the hospital, leaves the hospital with a positive impression not just about the care given, but also with a positive experience of the whole patient journey. In this respect all employees have an equal responsibility to help us reach our goal, that requires a true team effort.”

Better together with GHP International

Tobias Lineback elaborates on how studying decision making by different communities at SKMCA is a rewarding learning experience for GHP International

HP International took up operational responsibility of Sheikh Khalifa Medical City Ajman (SKMCA) almost three years ago, in December 2016 and the learning curve has since been very valuable.

Tobias Lineback, CEO GHP International explains: “Our Specialty Hospitals in the Nordics are focused on a single patient group, which leads to higher quality, efficiency and patient safety. Our belief is that quality, continuity and efficiency comes from a high degree of specialisation, the more you do something the better the result. — Quality through specialisation.”

Speaking on the partnership with SKMCA, he adds, “Our journey in the UAE has been rewarding in many ways. We have seen improved health outcomes and are proud to say that we have made a real difference. We have also seen that Swedish and Emirati culture mix quite well, despite cultural differences. We feel positively about the partnership and that influences how we would like to expand business both in the UAE and the GCC region. There is mutual appreciation, which we think is very good to build relations.”

Sweden has a long history of high-quality health care

“GHP is building on the Swedish tradition of high-quality health care, cost efficiency and continuous development and improvement. We have a management style which is transparent, straight forward and empowers employees to make decisions and use their own experience and expertise in the best way for the patients.”

In addition to the UAE, since many years GHP has substantial operations in Sweden and Denmark. We also recently launched operations in Kuwait. However, the UAE is special to GHP.

“In the UAE we feel that we have really made a difference. We started on a very good platform at the Rashid Centre for Diabetes almost 10 years ago with the Ministry of Health, which is one of the four hospitals at SKMCA. Building on that success we decided that this is a market we would like to be in and expand in as well. We feel appreciated here.”

In the GCC there is strong emphasis on ensuring high quality, something that GHP International aligns with, reason why they find the region quite fertile to work in. GHP’s speciality hospital background roots reflect its corporate tagline of quality through specialisation.

“The more you do something the better you become,” says Lineback. “Just spreading out too thinly is never a good idea. You cannot go the full distance without putting the patient first and being the patient’s first choice will be the natural outcome of ensuring that you provide the best quality,” he says.

“There is a need in the market to increase awareness about preventative health care. It is a lifestyle issue in the region as a whole and we will seek to collaborate and partner with ministries and health organisations in the future to not only treat the negative effects of lifestyle issues but also to find innovative care models that stimulate preventive health — not just for the sake of the population but also for the sake of the economy.”

All about GHP

GHP is a Swedish healthcare provider that conducts both out-patient and in-patient care in the Nordic countries with over 20 specialist hospitals and the UAE and Kuwait. Our speciality hospitals focus on a specific patient group, which leads to higher quality, efficiency and patient safety. Our clinics focus on quality, continuity and efficiency and it is our conviction that this comes from a high degree of specialisation. We believe quite simply that the more you do something, the better the result.

The larger the patient groups with similar specific medical conditions, the more skillful our healthcare teams become, and it should be remembered that they were already very knowledgeable from the outset. All our clinics therefore focus on a specific patient group, with the aim of being leaders within this specialty — Quality through specialisation.

GHP International just launched operations in Kuwait

The privately owned, 150-bed multi-speciality Kuwait Hospital in Kuwait offers a number of Centres of Excellence. A lot of the specialities at the hospital are similar to the core specialities in Sweden. With Kuwait’s rapidly maturing healthcare insurance market, GHP’s expertise in the field will also come in handy, being the leading healthcare insurance provider to several companies in Sweden. GHP looks to utilise a lot of its strengths in its operations in Kuwait and is keen to set foot in a new market, which while being regionally similar, offers unique challenges as well.