Health & Education

Maximizing Value

Value-based Healthcare

Healthcare in Dubai is internationally praised, with standards that are considered to be generally high, but costs may soon outpace willingness or ability to pay for such care.

Dubai attracts health tourists from all over the world, who are able to combine the lovely beaches and state-of-the-art malls with high-quality medical procedures and wellness treatments. In this bustling landscape, specialists are constantly looking for ways to innovate in the healthcare sector.

Innovation may prove to be most needed in how to pay for healthcare. Healthcare spending in Dubai is on the rise. Demand for healthcare services has increased, partly as a result of population growth and much sought-after health tourism revenues. Another important factor that contributes to this growth is the increasing occurrence of lifestyle-related medical conditions—a trend that is visible across the region and adding to rising costs for patients and governments alike. Amid ballooning costs, a desire to transition to a system focused on value and efficiency has emerged within the healthcare management domain. At the foundation of value-based healthcare lies the ambition to make healthcare more patient centered and affordable.

According to specialists working on its development, value-based healthcare brings value to all stakeholders involved. Patients receive better medical assistance, physicians are able to improve their work while learning from best practices, and also hospitals and regulators are better off. Instead of rewarding volume, as is essentially the case with reimbursement models, value-based payment models aim to take into account costs, quality, and outcome, and reward better results accordingly. Data-based performance metrics have to ensure that funds are spent more efficiently. Dubai Health Authority (DHA) plans to roll out a system to rate healthcare facilities based on their performance, which will facilitate patients’ selection of high-value care.
Under Dubai Health Strategy 2016-2021, DHA has formulated a set of ambitious plans with a mission of transforming Dubai into a leading healthcare destination by fostering innovative and integrated care models and enhancing community engagement. One of the strategic objectives of the strategy is to position Dubai as a global medical destination by introducing a value-based, comprehensive, integrated, and high-quality service delivery system.

One of the vital elements in value-based healthcare is data collection. Data from different hospitals and physicians are to be analysed by teams that formulate common goals and improvements. According to a 2015 Accenture report, however, the UAE lags behind in interoperability. Value-based healthcare requires a comprehensive informatics infrastructure for the collection, exchange, and analysis of data.

Though encouragingly, the past years have shown improvement in data collection and access. Ensuring further improvement in data collection, for example through the creation of a national diabetes registry, will be key in realizing the DHA’s mission, as it is to the further development of value-based healthcare in the country. Ultimately, achieving a unified health record for Dubai would greatly enhance healthcare efficiency and result in higher patient outcomes and delivery of care.

The transition to value-based models is happening elsewhere too. A 2012 study by Availity showed that 60% of healthcare providers in the US expect the value-based payment model to become the dominant payment model. A national survey of 355 hospital executives, conducted in 2016 by Philips in the US, showed that the vast majority either expect the transition toward value-based models of payment to happen within a few years or are already experiencing it.

To be sure, these results say little about the expectations around value-based healthcare in the UAE, but they spark the question of what the future holds here. It is clear, however, that to unleash this full potential it is necessary that the model is applied at a large scale by a wide range of stakeholders. As Majid Kaddoumi, Vice President and Regional Managing Director of Medtronic, told TBY; “Funders, partners, and governments across the region need to be aware of the potential of value-based healthcare and take our hand through the journey so that we can do it together.”