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Predictions 2017: Valiant Clinic general manager Andrew Fisk

Predictions 2017: Valiant Clinic general manager Andrew Fisk

Fisk predicts a focus on quality medicine will be needed to survive in the healthcare market

After four years of planning and construction, Valiant Clinic opened in Dubai in November 2016, creating our own niche through our focus on high quality, evidence-based medicine.

The process of introducing a new concept gives a unique perspective on accomplishment: on the one hand, we have successfully opened our doors and are making our mark but on the other hand we have much left to do in areas such as customer service, regional disease prevention, and lifestyle choices to name a few.

We saw an opportunity in this market for a facility that provides a focus on preventive health care rather than traditional, reactive medicine. This is a proposition that is garnering huge interest in the UAE as it embraces a long-term focus on health and allows doctors and health specialists to guide lifestyle choices as opposed to just treating their diseases and symptoms.

The prognosis is promising. We are optimistic about this holistic view of good health finding a strong foothold in this region in 2017-2018. In addition, given the current rate of growth, we believe we will get the opportunity to test the penetration of two industry buzz words – quality and value – in 2017.

Our customers are no longer ‘patients’ who want to be treated; they are well-informed individuals, who perceive doctors as advisors. This is a major shift and will put the onus on medical health experts to be educated on a wide variety of subjects, deal positively with well-informed consumers, and push institutions like ours to offer services that focus on customer experience as well as health needs. This encourages doctors to treat each customer as a guest as opposed to a subject under observation. A bespoke approach to service will go a long way in creating distinction in the minds of all our stakeholders.

We are at a major turning point in this industry and although the sector has grown exponentially, there has not been a commensurate increase in the quality of services.

This also includes a commitment to transparency. Doctors, clinics and hospitals must be transparent about the quality of care they provide in order to attract and keep their patients, as well as raise or even sustain their pricing. With much of the competition in Dubai being about price, we will see the market hit critical mass and the density of providers causing pressure on both price and quality.

With debates and discussions around escalating costs in the United States, we are seeing a ripple effect around the globe with scrutiny on healthcare pricing growing everywhere. As health insurance becomes more pervasive, employers, insurance companies and physicians are all learning how to operate in an era of cost containment and relative value of the medical services provided.

It will become imperative for healthcare providers to align pricing with quality, especially as Dubai seeks to compete with destinations like India and Thailand in establishing credentials as a medical tourism destination. Insurers have struggled to underwrite healthcare insurance at a level that covers claims expenses. As these insurers attempt to raise rates, the market will cap whatever price increase they can achieve. Medical providers will then be pushed to deliver services for the same or less money, bending the healthcare price curve down from its historical rate of growth.

On the bright side, the competition will transition from price-based to quality-focused, compelling employers and insurers to demand transparency and quality metrics that will change the market.

Finally, ultra-luxury healthcare services are developing and growing in demand, and the concentration of providers serving the higher end of the market are not considering insurance as a key pricing driver. These providers will continue to grow offering premium services in niche segments to a very select clientele as opposed to a singular provision of care.

This year will see these market trends evolve and come into conflict. Providers that evolve to focus on quality will be the best prepared to not just survive these competing forces, but thrive in the increasingly competitive Dubai healthcare environment.

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