The shift towards personalised healthcare in the UAE

Christian Schuhmacher, CEO of King’s College Hospital London in the UAE, on the multiple benefits of personalised care



In the age of abundant information, we have seen the rise of personalised care across industries, and this is no different in healthcare.

Personalised healthcare uses new approaches to better manage patients’ health and achieve the best outcomes in the management of a patient’s disease or predisposition to disease. We are now able to combine and analyse clinical and diagnostic information, allowing us to identify patterns that can help to determine our individual risk of developing disease, detect illness earlier, and determine the most effective interventions to help improve our health.

Patients and families are also able to access health and lifestyle information in a multitude of ways, as well as resources that provide them with the information to decide if a visit to the hospital or a clinic suits them best, or which doctor has the relevant expertise for a certain condition. These are just some of the ways that people are having a hand in how they receive treatment.

A ‘one size fits all’ approach to healthcare does not consider differing patient needs. The needs of a 25-year-old dealing with breast cancer differ greatly from a 50-year-old with the same diagnosis, and therefore should be receiving different treatment specific to their needs. It is essential that health organisations understand that populations are changing, and that people are seeking a more valuable and personal type of care.

In the UAE, people are starting to take control of their health and becoming more aware of how to address their health concerns, as well as looking for more holistic solutions. With the strains of modern daily living and a busy lifestyle, workplace wellness programmes are becoming an increasing priority for people as a means to enhance their quality of life. People are also turning to healthcare providers to offer an all-encompassing solution, which is tailored to their specific needs.

Worldwide healthcare systems are shifting to understand and address diverse populations. Recently, through the 100,000 Genomes Project, the NHS has been able to use its cutting-edge genomic technologies to predict and diagnose inherited and acquired disease, and can therefore personalise treatments and interventions.

The UAE has also recognised the importance of the individual and the interests of people, with healthcare being among the top priorities across vital sectors. Many providers are also implementing electronic health records systems, which allow them to investigate each patient’s predisposing factors within different clinical fields. Not only does this help doctors treat and follow each patient in a unique way, facilitating preventive medicine, but it also allows them to create a more patient-centric healthcare delivery system.

For more personalised care, providers are also implementing a ‘multidisciplinary teams’ concept, whereby patient cases are assessed and reviewed by different medical experts and specialists in diverse clinical areas.

As populations become more diverse, keeping people healthy will increasingly depend on how well healthcare systems understand and address these diverse populations.

Personalised care can improve healthcare outcomes, reduce economic burden, and enhance quality of life.