Dubai’s private healthcare sector will require a minimum of 1,500 new beds by 2020, translating into a minimum investment of $1.5 billion, according to a new report by research firm Colliers International.
The report revealed that population growth, prevalence of lifestyle diseases, introduction of compulsory health insurance along with the emirate’s push to become a medical tourism hub are expected to drive the growth of the private sector in Dubai’s healthcare industry.
Dubai’s private hospitals were valued at $1.75 billion in 2013 but are expected to reach $3.23 billion by 2020, the report added.
“The healthcare landscape in Dubai has changed significantly over the last five years as international players have entered the market to meet the growing demand for services, competition has increased, providing patients with greater choice,” said Mansoor Ahmed, director of Healthcare, Education and PPP at Colliers International.
But he added that the market has the potential for more private sector players.
“Dubai has experienced a significant construction boom during the last decade across all asset classes in general, including the healthcare sector.
“However, 71 per cent of the hospitals in Dubai are located in what is commonly referred to as “Old Dubai”, which presents an opportunity for establishing new facilities in the “New Dubai” areas, such as Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Al Khalil Road and along Sheikh Zayed Road.”
The report also showed that the ratio of doctors, nurses and beds to the number of patients is low compared to other developed countries such as the UK, US and Germany.
Other challenges in Dubai’s healthcare sector include attracting and retaining talent in the healthcare sector, especially for the private sector.
“Operators desperate to recruit qualified specialised staff have prompted a trend of poaching physicians from competitors. With a limited pool of established physicians, salaries have witnessed exceptional growth, to an extent that it is negatively affecting the profitability of hospitals and clinics in the UAE,” said Ahmed.
Dubai is also aspiring to be a medical tourism hub and aims to attract about 500,000 visitors by 2020 to avail of its medical facilities.
Ahmed said that Dubai should make its medical tourism offering more appealing to visitors through package deals.
“To further establish Dubai as a medical and wellness tourism hub, healthcare providers could offer tailor-made comprehensive medical and wellness tourism packages which include costs of medical treatment, visa, hotel stays and even recreational activities for accompanying family members.
“What we recommend is that hospitals work in collaboration with airlines, hotels and health authorities to successfully establish Dubai as a medical tourism hub. If medical tourism in Dubai were to capture two per cent of its international tourists in 2015, an additional $1 billion in revenues would be generated by the healthcare sector,” said Ahmed.