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Italy is renowned for its beautiful landscape, culinary arts and rich heritage. But the country also tops the rankings when it comes to its national healthcare system and life expectancy, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
Armed with the mission of creating awareness of Italian healthcare as well as the legacy of the Gruppo Ospedaliero San Donato (GSD) abroad is James Georges, Head of International Business Development, GSD. He is tasked with the important job of spreading the message of GSD as a hospital of the future that offers the very best of treatments as well as exceptional academic courses.
His role is to establish GSD’s presence in the Middle East, Russia, CIS countries, as well as the rest of the world. In addition, James Georges has to liaise with colleagues from the Italian Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism, and private healthcare companies, along with the embassies and consulates of different countries. His responsibilities include finding new markets for business development, increasing medical tourism, and emphasising on the quality of care international patients will receive. This involves constant coordination with different departments and taking into account the varied communication, feedback, and indicators GSD receives, in order to incorporate them successfully into the business model and keep it growing.
Since joining GSD four years ago, James Georges has been tasked with entrenching the identity of GSD as an internationally recognisable healthcare brand. Today, the International Business Development department handles four key activities. “These include,” he explains, “services for international patients; international cooperation - helping other countries develop their healthcare systems and provide treatment not currently existing in these countries; international marketing – in line with the vision of our President Paolo Rotelli to create awareness of the brand internationally; and focus on international projects and the expansion of GSD abroad.”
One of GSD’s most prized institutions is the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (UniSR), not just because of the wide range of facilities it offers but also, because of the excellent treatment options it provides to patients.
“We offer excellence in medical research and treat rare diseases that involve medical procedures not available abroad,” he says. “We have developed innovative pharmacies and offer world-class teaching programmes. Our goal is to take this excellence outside of Italy, as we get a large number of international patients.”
In January 2017, GSD Healthcare, the UAE arm of GSD International, opened its first office in the UAE in Dubai Healthcare City.
According to Francesco Magro who, until recently, served as the Director and General Manager of GSD Healthcare, “As the largest healthcare organisation in Italy, GSD has accumulated competencies and expertise that has been put to use successfully for its hospitals. The Group’s strategy of expansion therefore seeks to offer this expertise to others as well, as we have reached a stage where it is healthy for us to do it.”
With Dubai being the gateway to a number of other emerging markets, and because it is “an exciting, growing, business friendly environment, it has been the right place for us to start our international journey,” he adds.
There are three different areas of business in which GSD Healthcare operates. “Training & Education is our key activity which has two aspects: one, is the clinical training that seeks to improve the efficiencies of participating clinicians and physicians, the quality of care offered, and which leverages on our expertise in this area; while the second is management training that is offered through our partnership with the SDA Bocconi School of Management, a top ranked business school in Italy,” elaborates Francesco.
Consulting is the second core area of business and this includes providing consultancy services for medical devices companies, hospitals, healthcare authorities, etc and can be on diverse topics like purchasing, clinical pathways, policy making, operations, and so on. “Between GSD and Bocconi, we can cover the whole spectrum from policy making to outpatient clinic management,” he says.
Although there are no plans right now, “in the future, we would also be keen on exploring the idea of offering our expertise in the direct management of a hospital, and this would form the third segment of our operations in Dubai,” he adds.
Verdiana Morando, Professor, who currently teaches Public Management and Policy at SDA Bocconi School of Management, is taking over the role of Head of Training & Consultancy at GSD Healthcare. With a degree in Moral Philosophy, two Ph.D.’s and an MsC in Health Policies and Commissioning Health Care Services from the Birmingham University, Verdiana Morando has an amazing depth of over a decade’s experience in healthcare education and management.
“Through our training programmes, we are targeting medical and healthcare professionals from the whole GCC and Middle Eastern region to provide high quality, accredited courses in a multitude of medical, surgical and healthcare management topics,” she explains. “The idea is to bring the best competencies here to improve the proficiencies of clinicians in different specialities. The high standard of quality training provided by GSD Healthcare also adheres to the highest professional and healthcare ethics.”
The distinctive advantage of having a very strong research university under the GSD Group - Ospedale San Raffaele – “allows us to bring the breakthrough of the research here, directly providing the baseline competencies in the most recent innovative technologies,” she adds.
There are currently 30 courses planned for 2018 comprising of both clinician-based and management-oriented programmes. One of most exciting new programmes for this year, commencing in September, is the Executive Programme in Hospital Management that seeks to promote innovation in healthcare management and delivery. Targeting multiple professional profiles, topics covered will range from public policy, hospital management, healthcare strategy, public health and disease management, she elaborates. “The full executive programme is made up of 5 modules of 3 days face-to-face training, plus workshop on-site and a final field project,” she adds.
Amongst the courses targeting clinicians and healthcare professionals in 2018 include specialised courses in gynaecology, urology, bariatrics, gene and cell therapy, aesthetic dentistry, 3D echocardiography, cardiology, minimally invasive procedures, and many more.
State-of-the-art video conferencing systems connected to the hi-tech surgery rooms in multiple hospitals in Milan, makes the live surgery experience both exciting and educative. These CME-accredited courses offered by GSD Healthcare are held in a number of locations across Dubai, the UAE and the Middle East region.
Francesco Magro states that since its opening in January last year, GSD Healthcare held four main conferences: three in cardiology and one in obesity – both involving diverse specialities in their respective disciplines. All conferences had around 120 to 150 participants each. In addition, clinical training programmes were also held in the fields of minimally invasive cardiac surgery, two different courses in orthopaedic surgery, interventional cardiology, diabetes treatment, and so on. “In all, GSD Healthcare trained more than 600 professionals in the region in its first year of operation – a great achievement considering that we started delivery of courses only in November,” he says.
Having made an impressive impact in its debut year, GSD Healthcare is all set to replicate its success in 2018 and fulfil its aim of generating a transformational impact in the future of healthcare in the Gulf region by boosting clinical excellence, the use of technologies and digitalisiation, managerial capacities and strategic leadership competencies and developing applied research.