Clalit Health Services Set To Improve Medical Tourism In UAE
When 6-year-old Veronika * was brought to Schneider Medical Center with a severe and rare immune disease, her parents were unsure if their little girl would survive.
âBefore she entered the hospital for treatment, we were very nervous and intimidated by the fear of the unknown,â her father said. âWhen she arrived at Schneider Hospital, we saw that Veronika was surrounded by professionals who knew what they were doing and cared about making her better. It was obvious that she was in good hands, and that took a lot of our apprehension away. Even in the darkest moments of the young girl’s recovery, the Schneider team remained calm, professional and optimistic.
âThanks to the PICU team, she is once again a happy and active girl with a bright future. Without the help of the USIP team, his recovery would not be possible. We can’t thank you enough for everything you did, you saved his life and there is nothing more important than the life of a child, âhe added.
What makes Veronika’s story unique is not her exemplary medical treatment or her recovery, but the fact that she received this world-class level of care from a country she does not even reside in. .
A citizen of Ukraine, Veronika is just one of many foreign nationals who come to Israel for high-level medical treatment. Now, with the signing of the Abrahamic Accords, the people of the United Arab Emirates will be able to receive similar services in their country through a visiting physician program and, thanks to telemedicine, even in the comfort of their own homes. This is due to the MoU signed between Clalit Health Services and the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Health and Prevention, which sought to improve their already impressive healthcare industry with Israeli innovation and medical know-how. . The agreement will allow Clalit to deliver on its mission of providing high quality, accessible, innovative and human services to every patient, anytime, anywhere in the UAE capital. Yoram Raviv, partner at D Major – a regional management consultancy that provides strategic information to companies with diverse business interests – was instrumental in making the deal happen. âThis is a partnership that lasted more than five years, but became a reality following the Abrahamic Accords. Clalit approached me to try to see how we can work with the UAE and we have helped develop a roadmap to get there, âhe said.
By signing with Clalit, DOH has entered into a partnership with one of the largest HMOs in the world, made up of 14 hospitals (which perform some 130,000 operations per year) – including the aforementioned Schneider Children’s. Half of the Israeli population belongs to Clalit, with the HMO serving 52% of the population, including ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews and Israeli Arabs. In addition, the organization employs 48,000 people, including 10,000 doctors and 10,000 nurses. Most of the day-to-day interactions of patients are with their independent clinics, but Clalit also offers 820 pharmacies, 40 children’s health centers, 100 physiotherapy institutes, 100 dental clinics, 60 mental health clinics and 50 women’s health centers.
Dr Orly Weinstein, Deputy Director of Health Services at Clalit and Head of the Hospitals Division Credit – spokesperson for Clalit
As such, Dr Orly Weinstein, Deputy Director of Health Services at Clalit and Head of the Hospitals-Clalit Division, is seizing the many opportunities associated with an agreement of this magnitude. âWhenever we talk about collaboration between countries, there is potential for development in various sectors. We plan to collaborate on special projects, to exchange information that can not only generate economic benefits, but also bring many medical benefits, âshe said. So what exactly does Abu Dhabi gain from this deal? Dr Weinstein spoke to the Khaleej Times to explain why this partnership is beneficial not only for the Emirati medical industry, but also for citizens. Let’s first see the impact that this partnership can have on a large scale.
A treasure trove of big data
Over the past 30 years, Clalit has diligently digitized the data of all of its patients and draws on a strong and diverse range of medical experiences of millions of people, from birth to death. This gives the HMO the advantage of a generous sample size for examining trends and even predicting medical outcomes.
“The larger the data set, the more detailed the research we can do,” noted Dr. Weinstein. So, with this collaboration, Abu Dhabi can benefit a lot from this knowledge. However, she clarified that the data is completely anonymous and that respecting the privacy of their customers is the top priority.
Beyond the advancement of medical research, data sharing has a very real impact on the ground at the hospital. Say, for example, a premature baby is brought into the NICU. Every moment for this fragile and vulnerable baby counts. By testing a baby’s birth weight, urine samples, heart rate and temperature, the data provides an accurate window of survival and alerts doctors when and how to intervene. Thanks to Clalit’s research, doctors can see what is recommended in terms of treatment by entering specific characteristics of the baby regarding his condition. The data can then indicate the process to follow based on further successes so that the medical team can get to work and continue with a treatment plan without wasting valuable time.
Visiting physician program
In addition to cutting-edge data, however, it takes experienced and reputable physicians to execute the treatment plan in question. While the UAE certainly has brilliant medical professionals, this MoU with Israel will complement that knowledge with Israel’s own team of medical experts.
As the deal is only just beginning to take shape, senior officials from Abu Dhabi and Clalit are developing ways in which Israeli doctors can visit the Gulf according to the needs of local medical facilities in order to enable the emirate to ” access its expertise.
The organization also plans to facilitate seminars, training programs and workshops both in person and remotely so that Israeli and Emirati doctors can exchange knowledge and expertise. As a first step in this program, Clalit hopes to start with pediatrics, sending doctors from Schneider Medical Center in the early stages of the exchange. âLet’s say there is a child with a complicated heart defect and maybe there is a lack of knowledge in the UAE on how to treat it. With this plan, a team from Schneider will look after the child in question, perform the operation and post-operative care, âsaid Dr Weinstein. A longer-term goal would be to bring patients to Israel, so that they can receive personalized treatment. Rather than flying to Europe or the United States, Abu Dhabi could benefit from world-class medical care close to home. Once in Israel, each Emirati patient will be assigned a case management assistant who will direct them to the best facility to meet their needs. However, travel is not always possible – especially in today’s Covid era – which is why authorities are also exploring telemedicine options where an Israel-based doctor can give a patient a critical consultation. Abu Dhabi. âSchneider and Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital are two of the biggest and best hospitals in the Middle East and we want Emiratis to have direct access to what they have to offer,â she added.
Loewenstein, for example, is one of the world’s leading rehabilitation hospitals providing rehabilitation services for the spine, brain injury, neurology, orthopedics and pediatrics. The facility has the largest number of rehabilitation physicians in Israel, who are intentionally recognized leaders in their field. Additionally, the world-renowned Loewenstein Occupational Therapy Cognitive Assessment Device (LOTCA) which measures basic cognitive skills required for daily functions and SCIM (Measure of Spinal Cord Independence), a tool functional assessment, have been developed in the hospital.
At the same time, Schneider, which offers specialized and multidisciplinary care exclusively for children, has set the benchmark for excellence in their treatment of foreigners. The facility regularly receives requests for treatment from all over the world and has cured children from Jordan, Turkey, Russia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Cyprus, Greece, Romania , Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Palestinian Authority.
The hospital believes that a safe child is more likely to rehabilitate faster, which is why it makes sure parents are with their children through every step of their treatment and assigns them a patient coordinator to respond to any questions they may have as well as providing a place to sleep and shower in their child’s room during their stay.
A fruitful road ahead
Since the Abrahamic Accords were signed last year, secular leaders and pundits have expressed their pleasant surprise that such a groundbreaking normalization deal has been reached. The shared values, customs, and advanced technological know-how between Israel and the Gulf states made this partnership a natural fit, leading many to wonder why it didn’t happen sooner.
âUsually we worked with hospitals in the US and Europe and working with Arab states was rare. A collaboration with the United Arab Emirates was not even on our radar a few months ago. But the Abrahamic accords gave us an important opening, an opportunity that must be seized, âWeinstein said. âAfter all, we’re a short flight away, we cherish the same things in lifeâ¦ we’re basically cousins ââdestined to work side by side. “
* The child’s name has been changed for confidentiality reasons.
– Noa Amouyal is a Tel Aviv-based freelance journalist and media strategist. She has written for publications such as The Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Chronicle, and The Times of Israel.