PureHealth's Shaista Asif on why longevity is the key to the future of healthcare
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Cover story: PureHealth’s Shaista Asif on why longevity is the key to the future of healthcare

Cover story: PureHealth’s Shaista Asif on why longevity is the key to the future of healthcare

The group chief operating officer of PureHealth shares her mission to transform the UAE into the land of longevity

Shaista Asif, Group Chief Operating Officer of PureHealth

Picture a world where people live long, fulfilling lives, performing to their full potential and enjoying good health. As utopian as it may seem to some, this is the world that Shaista Asif is committed to creating, and it’s no pipe dream.

Asif is determined to realise this vision of longevity and transform the existing approach to healthcare along the way. And it’s not just about business. “It’s about enhancing the quality of life and elevating the healthcare landscape,” says the group COO of PureHealth, considered the UAE’s largest integrated healthcare platform.

“Our primary objective and commitment is to increase humanity’s average life expectancy while improving their health-span. This can only be achieved by transforming the healthcare ecosystem and we are starting with the UAE,” she adds.

Asif’s determination and vision is supported by the might of a solid ecosystem that is powering this evolution. Since its inception in 2006, PureHealth has gone from strength to strength, expanding to include more than 25 hospitals, over 100 clinics, 160 plus labs, multiple diagnostic centres, pharmacies, as well as healthtech, insurance and procurement entities, creating a well-connected healthcare value chain in Abu Dhabi and Northern Emirates. In doing so, the company has garnered influence and experience – all of which underscore its focus on innovation and disruption.

“We are curating a healthcare ecosystem, which is truly outcome-oriented and moves healthcare from a reactive service to a proactive, ‘always-on’ way of life,” she says passionately.

This is clearly demonstrated in the company’s acquisition and consolidation drive in the past few years. Today, its network includes Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), National Health Insurance Company (DAMAN), The Medical Office – which oversees Sheikh Khalifa Hospitals and healthcare facilities established as part of the initiatives sanctioned by the UAE’s President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Rafed, Pure Lab, Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Centre, One Health and The Life Corner, Abu Dhabi’s first holistic pharmacy.

Combining the strengths of clinical powerhouses with the UAE’s leading health insurer has enabled PureHealth to operate a scalable healthcare platform.

“Additionally, our patients benefit from access to greater clinical expertise and healthcare services across the spectrum of care,” says Asif, who believes that value-based healthcare can be best delivered through a vertically integrated healthcare platform wherein all the healthcare value chain capabilities come together to deliver against a common set of goals, improving health outcomes, maximising efficiency, and reducing the burden of care.

The company is also using technology to facilitate change – by digitising healthcare infrastructure. The collection and analysis of a patient’s real-time data in the future will enable real-time intervention and as a result, preventive care. To deliver this, PureHealth has set a strategy defining its transition to the cloud.

“This means that all our healthcare delivery businesses, along with our lab, insurance and procurement businesses are integrating, synergising, setting goals for themselves and defining their collective journeys to the cloud,” says the company’s group COO.

Embracing technology
Circling back to longevity, technology will continue to play a significant role in supporting the company’s goals. Asif says, “We plan to deliver on the promise of longevity by bringing all this knowledge to bear into a data-driven technology platform that industrialises longevity and delivers it consistently and holistically.

“Through our longevity platform, we will be able to engage with the entire population, to baseline their health and provide them with their digital twin. We will subsequently facilitate their journey to ‘101’ years through integrated care underpinned by the framework and the evolving science of longevity.

“With science and technology improving rapidly, there are already technologies and scientific breakthroughs in the pipeline to enhance the lifespan of people. By focusing on longevity, our North Star, we will ensure we are early adopters of these latest developments and enable it through our technologically advanced ecosystem.”


Partnering with DoH Abu Dhabi
Another key focus for the company is enabling timely organ transplants, which has underpinned its alliance with Department of Health Abu Dhabi (DoH) . The entities have established a state-of-the-art unit to streamline the organ donation and transplant value chain and support timely and efficient interventions, streamlined processes, and most importantly, promote preventive care.

Asif explains: “Longevity is at the core of everything we do and enabling people to lead healthier and longer lives by ensuring timely organ transplants is a critical aspect of that. Being a voluntary organ donor is one of the greatest gifts you can give to humanity.

“One deceased organ donor can help save and extend up to eight lives. Two kidney donations can help two patients get off dialysis. However, globally still less than 10 per cent of organ transplants needs are met and there are thousands of people on the waiting lists desperately awaiting a timely organ donation as we speak.”

Alongside being a humanitarian issue, this situation puts immense burden on public health systems across the globe, stresses Asif, who is committed to making a difference.

Under DoH’s Hayat (Gift of Life) campaign, PureHealth is mobilising communities, partners and volunteers across its footprint to raise awareness on organ health and enhance the national donor pool.

“The more people are aware of organ health, means less people will make it to the waiting lists and the more people register as organ donors, those on the waiting lists will have a better chance at life.

“Last month, we kicked off awareness and donation camps, including one at ADNOC Marathon, and in a matter of just three days, together with the community and volunteers raised the national organ donors pool from 6,300 to approximately 9,000 registered organ donors,” she explains.

Supporting the UAE’s healthcare goals
In addition to advancing the science of longevity, the company is also focused on establishing the UAE as the health capital of the world – a destination for people across the world seeking high quality, advanced value-based healthcare.

Earlier this year, PureHealth joined the National In-Country Value (ICV) Program. This is part of the UAE’s ‘Projects of the 50’ initiatives, aimed at reinforcing the country as the preferred destination for industrial investments and a testbed for the latest technologies.

As part of this, the company has committed Dhs10bn in local procurement in line with the national industrial strategy, which supports the localisation of supply chains by redirecting higher portions of public spending into the local economy.

PureHealth is participating in initiatives with the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) to stimulate local industrial capabilities, capitalise on opportunities within the healthcare sector and conduct training programmes to upskill the national workforce.

“With artificial intelligence, biotech, medtech, genetic engineering and robotics at the core of 4IR, it is imperative that we support the UAE to capitalise on industry 4.0. This will not only support our local economy, but also build resilience within the healthcare sector where we will rely less on imports as we build a strong local healthcare hub,” says Asif.

Supporting the UAE is not limited to the manufacturing sector. PureHealth, in collaboration with the Presidential Court, also launched the Baader Command Centre in Umm Al Quwain, which manages emergencies, crises, and disasters for all ‘Presidential Initiatives’ hospitals in the Northern Emirates.

The next phase of this project is to coordinate efforts with all the healthcare regulators in the country and to develop an integrated network of command centres for disaster, emergency, and crisis management.

The centres are to be equipped with modern technologies to detect, respond to and deal with emergencies and health crises, after linking it to the main command centre of the Ministry of Health and Prevention.

Asif says, “Being the largest healthcare network in the country, we have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure we act with speed and agility in times of emergency and crises. The company has a dedicated team managing such operations at a group level and the team is also responsible for ensuring continuous monitoring of our assets, supplies and protocols to ensure as a group we are ready to support the UAE in situations of unforeseen circumstances.”

Protecting the planet
Climate action is another critical area that Asif is passionate about. She says, “At PureHealth, we talk about the longevity of humankind. But, in equal measure, we all need to work towards the longevity of our planet. We only have one planet and 10 per cent of the global GDP is represented by the healthcare sector, so we need to take climate change seriously, and play our part, in order to leave our next generations with a planet, that is livable and sustainable.”

We look forward to seeing how Asif and PureHealth incorporate climate action into their plans to create a sustainable, healthy world.

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