Exclusive interview: Group Chief Operational Officer, Al Salama Hospital, United Arab Emirates

By Serynn Guay

Group Chief Operational Officer Dr Mohamed Hamdy explores the possibilities of insurance claims automation and medical repositioning.

Al Salama Hospital is a multi specialty medical hub nestled in one of the main streets of Abu Dhabi. Hospital Insider speaks to Dr Mohamed Hamdy, its Group Chief Operational Officer, on benchmarking in healthcare and using Artificial Intelligence to improve healthcare delivery.

What are the new technologies that you are looking to implement in the near future?

Artificial Intelligence is changing healthcare, and is key to reducing diagnostic errors, cutting costs and improving patient outcomes. Its applications include insurance claims automation - AI can reduce medical claim errors significantly by using machine learning to analyse historical cases, and manage this time-consuming task with a higher level of accuracy.

Another AI application we are looking at is medical repositioning. Creating new drugs is expensive and tedious. The process takes over a decade to complete with billions of dollars invested in research and development. Medication repositioning with AI makes use of already approved medications in another space of treatment, bypassing many stages of the medication discovery process. This will help us create, test and approve new drugs faster to keep up with changes in healthcare delivery.

We are also looking into visualisation tools such as virtual and augmented reality. This will help to improve patient experience, educate patients and families, run simulations for clinical professionals and improve psychological conditions for patients using cognitive behavioral therapy.

What is a tool or technique that particularly interests you?

Data will be integral to pushing the frontiers in healthcare, and for that we have to continue leveraging on AI. The quality of data will be able to impact decisions made during patient care, and hospitals will have to invest in electronic medical or health records to have a holistic view of each patient to service them better.

Using this data, we can apply machine learning and predictive analytics which can help to support better patient outcomes and financial success across the value-based care continuum.

What are the major hospital challenges that you see in Asia Pacific?

The needs of the diverse and aging population of the Asia Pacific is driving the need for new solutions. There is a lack of sufficient and proper health care services in this region.

There is a big need to focus on educating doctors, creating a healthy relationship among industry providers and regulators, and fostering greater cooperation in efforts to provide affordable and accessible healthcare services to the aging and diverse population in the region.

What can be done to address these challenges and improve patient outcomes?

Hospitals in the Asia Pacific today face the challenge of how to improve quality of care and population health, while at the same time controlling healthcare costs. Yet, pursuing these challenges in combination is presently a remote prospect for many hospitals and, indeed, in a majority of countries in the region.

The roles and functions of the public hospital sector within local health systems need redefinition and reform to address demographic and epidemiological transitions. Policymakers, managers and health professionals all have an obligation to reshape the future of public hospitals.

How can international guidelines, benchmarking, technology and other innovations play a role?

Benchmarking in health care has undergone several modifications. Initially, benchmarking was the comparison of performance outcomes to identify disparities. Then it expanded to include the analysis of processes and success factors for producing higher levels of performance.

More recently, benchmarking revolves around the need to meet patients’ expectations. Benchmarking can be extremely useful in supporting the development of good clinical practices because of its structure of assessment and reflection.

In essence, benchmarking is a collaborative rather than a competitive exercise that initially involves the sharing of care delivery practices with other organisations. Hospitals share findings with each other, and adopt best practices with the aim of improving performance.

That said, good practice in one healthcare provider often cannot be transferred to another in the same country or across borders. Different factors will affect performance, and these need to be identified and addressed.

Is there any hospital that you would be most interested to learn from?

Hospitals in Vietnam outperforms most of its Southeast Asian counterparts in positive patient outcomes. The country’s healthcare system is comparable to Thailand even though its level of disposable income per capita is much, much lower. This is very interesting, and I would like to take a deeper look on how they are achieving such high standards in healthcare.

What is one thing that you hope to achieve this year?

We are developing a startup company, Tachyhealth, to work on AI applications that will help hospitals such as automating insurance claims, medical repositioning and AR/VR to improve patient experiences. We are passionate about helping every hospital with digital transformation and applying AI technologies to pave the road for the healthcare of tomorrow.

What do you think would be the ‘next big thing’ in healthcare?

AI is inevitable, especially for the healthcare industry, in order to address problems like the ageing population and inaccessibility of healthcare in rural areas. The most important objectives of hospitals include the delivery of top quality care, and the improvement of patient experience and clinical outcomes. All this can be achieved by AI that can be used to enhance most, if not all, processes. This is what it takes for a hospital to be “future ready”.

Dr Hamdy will be sharing his insights during the Healthcare 4.0 stream at Hospital Management Asia 2019. Click here to download the latest agenda.