Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai’s model of care provides a blueprint for international healthcare expansion in the Middle East

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19 November 2017 (Dubai – United Arab Emirates): Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai opened in 2007 and the Moorfields international operating model – developed over the last 10 years in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – incorporates teaching and research as well as consultant-led clinical care, and has proved to be very successful. The hospital has treated more than 150,000 patients over the last decade and the model may provide a blueprint for other leading global healthcare institutions looking to expand internationally.

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is the oldest, and one of the largest, centres for ophthalmic treatment, teaching and research in the world. In 2007, more than 200 years after its foundation in 1804, Moorfields moved beyond the United Kingdom to open its first overseas branch.

Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai (Moorfields Dubai) has quickly become one of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region’s leading eye care institutions. Its success led to further expansion in the UAE with the opening of Moorfields Eye Hospital Centre, in Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with United Eastern Medical Services (UEMS), and most recently a new collaboration with Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital in Dubai, where Moorfields now delivers the paediatric ophthalmology clinical services.

By choosing Dubai as the first step, Moorfields was in a position to serve its current international patient base in the region – along with the domestic population of the UAE and the British and broader expatriate population that was likely to be already familiar with the Moorfields name and reputation.

Once the hospital had identified the Middle East and GCC region as the preferred location for its first international site, there were several challenges: where to base the hospital for optimum impact and the creation of world class facilities; how to attract and recruit the professional staff required to support the Moorfields team of consultants; and how to ensure equivalent high standards of quality and safety through a robust governance framework.

Dubai Health Care City (DHCC) is a unique healthcare ‘free zone’, an area of competitive trading arrangements to attract economic activity. The benefits of joining DHCC as a host community for the hospital included its very active support for healthcare partners, the high-quality environment and its rigorous legal/licensing framework. DHCC is attracting an increased number of healthcare partners to the community, including other international providers, whilst positioning Dubai as a major global destination for healthcare tourism, which is supported by Moorfields’ presence.

Treating patients and delivering services

Since opening, Moorfields Dubai has treated more than 150,000 patients from over 185 countries. Moorfields Dubai provides day case surgery and outpatient diagnostic and treatment services for most surgical and non-surgical eye conditions, equivalent to that available at our UK main sites.

Eye care is managed by the Moorfields team of multilingual and multicultural resident ophthalmic professionals, each with a distinctive area of subspecialisation. Many of the consultants in Dubai undertook their training at Moorfields London and all of them are based in the Middle East full time, to ensure the quality and consistency of patient care and follow up.

Critically, Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai maintains close links with London, to ensure that our patients receive the Moorfields standard of eye care and treatment. The hospital works to the regulatory governance framework and quality control standards of the local regulator, Dubai Health Care City Authority. The hospital applies the same clinical governance and operational procedures as Moorfields Eye Hospital London, where relevant.

Developing Abu Dhabi

Moorfields and United Eastern Medical Services (UEMS), Abu Dhabi’s leading privately owned healthcare development and Investment Company, signed a partnership agreement to establish Moorfields Eye Hospital Centre in Abu Dhabi (Moorfields Abu Dhabi), which opened in April 2016.

It was a natural progression, given Moorfields’ years of experience treating Abu Dhabi residents, through its collaboration with Health Plus Center, part of UEMS. Moorfields Abu Dhabi provides a comprehensive range of specialist ophthalmological services, including surgical and non-surgical treatments for common and complex eye conditions in children and adults, and the centre replicates the same approach and standards as Moorfields Dubai in its full time consultant team, clinical care, training, and teaching.

Extending the model

Most recently, Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai has formed an affiliation agreement with Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital (AJCSH) in Dubai with the aim of providing paediatric ophthalmology clinical care and exploring other collaborative initiatives such as clinical research, training and education.

For Moorfields, this is an excellent opportunity to create wider patient access to ophthalmic care, including complex ophthalmic conditions and those associated with systemic disease, in a fully equipped, multi-specialty hospital.

AJCSH is regulated by the same regulators as Moorfields Dubai – Dubai Healthcare City Regulatory – easing the process of licensing for Moorfields in AJCSH, while helping to maintain high regulatory standards.

There is also significant potential for agreements with governmental entities and corporates – Moorfields Dubai has agreements with Dubai Police, Emirates Airlines, and other key governmental and corporate entities for eye care, and we are actively pursuing the same types of agreements with similar entities in Abu Dhabi.

Mariano Gonzalez, Managing Director at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, says: “Moorfields has managed to extend its regional patient and brand reach through a flexible international network delivery model in the UAE. One of the challenges is to scale services and ensure a consistent and joined-up network, whilst delivering the same high standard of care to patients, despite regional variances in licensing and regulatory requirements.

“As our expansion continues, the challenge remains to recruit high quality consultants – although the UAE remains an attractive destination. Moorfields’ experience in the UAE over the last 10 years may provide a blueprint for other healthcare providers to follow – there is no doubt that we have enjoyed all the benefits that the UAE provides.”