King’s College Hospital London opens its Dubai Hills facility

By Deepa Narwani, Editor

King’s College Hospital London in Dubai, located in Dubai Hills, recently opened its doors, both for outpatients and inpatients. The 100-bed facility has started welcoming patients and begun surgical operations, including general surgery and paediatric orthopaedic cases. King’s College also operates two clinics in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi.

The hospital has come to town through a joint venture between Al Tayer Group, Dubai Investments and the UK-based Ashmore Group. The newly-opened facility will act as a direct link to King’s College Hospital in London, a leading teaching hospital from the UK. The London-based hospital has a 175-year history of caring for patients with complex conditions and is one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK.

A walk around the state-of-the-art facility highlights that a lot of importance has been put on making patients feel comfortable though warm hospitality.

An attendant is assigned to be with them as soon as they walk in through the doors till they meet the doctor. Plus, the latest technologies are visible throughout the premises giving prominence to clinical mobility.

Christian Schuhmacher, Chief Executive Officer, King’s College Hospital London, Dubai, told Arab Health Magazine: “This flagship hospital is our fourth facility in the UAE and now makes us a comprehensive healthcare provider in the country. We chose Dubai Hills as it is an up-and-coming area and reportedly there will be around 80,000 people living here in the near future. Our target audience are the local Emiratis and expats living around the area. We want to make it convenient and close for our patients to reach us.”

Utilising King’s College Hospital London’s expertise in healthcare will ensure efficient care is delivered at patients’ bedsides in the UAE, ensure further collaborations between UAE-based clinicians and UK-based physicians, and ensure seamless patient journeys between the Dubai and London hospitals.

He highlighted that there is a need in the local market for a product like King’s as it follows the exact same pathways as King’s College in London. “We offer a guaranteed level of clinical quality combined with world-class Middle Eastern service. Our goal is to provide evidence-based medicine that is centred on scientific findings and proven concepts and exactly deliver the amount of care that is needed, not more, not less, and cater to what the patient truly needs,” he added.

Specialised care

Schuhmacher said that the UAE has a young population, thereby it creates demand for obstetrics and gynaecologists, combined with foetal medicine. One of the hospital’s aim, he emphasised, is to offer a comprehensive package for pregnant women and their families.

Furthermore, through its visiting Faculty programme from King’s College Hospital in London, several specialised tertiary care procedures, such as foetal surgeries, where babies are operated on while still in their mother’s womb or procedures that reverse some forms of type 2 diabetes, will be made available at the hospital in Dubai. The visiting faculty will be in the UAE regularly to see patients during their pre- and post-operative care at all of King’s UAE facilities. Currently, over 70 per cent of the employed clinical staff at King’s UAE is UK trained.

The CEO highlighted that 80 per cent of the hospital’s services will be delivered by physicians locally, while 20 per cent of the more specialised and rare procedures will be delivered by visiting faculty from King’s London. Also, if a patient has to travel to King’s College in London for treatment it can be facilitated through a seamless process.

Dr. Gowri Ramanathan, Chief Medical Officer, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Foetal Medicine Specialist, King’s College Hospital London, Dubai, said: “Foetal medicine is an incredibly important aspect of care that we provide here. The reason is that amongst the Emirati population reportedly almost 60 per cent have consanguineous marriages, which means genetic disorders are a common issue. With genetic disorders come abnormalities in the foetuses. So, there is certainly a gap in the level of foetal care provided. What we are trying to do is to bring it to a different level where we provide foetal surgeries for unborn babies during pregnancy, which we carry out with our links with King’s London. There is also laser for twins, among other procedures. We are hoping to make this is a foetal surgical centre that goes hand-in-hand with our neonatology unit.”

Another big focus area for the hospital is orthopaedics and sub-specialised orthopaedics in terms of rare services such as hand surgery and paediatric orthopaedics. “We know that a lot of children here for different reasons need to be seen and treated by an orthopaedic doctor, and it is a very rare speciality that is not easily available,” Schuhmacher added.

The hospital also offers interventional cardiology services and is aiming to be a centre of excellence in cardiology.  

Christian Schuhmacher

Dr. Gowri Ramanathan

The CEO explained: “We all know that we should move a little bit more, and live a healthier life, unfortunately, if we don’t do that for too long it affects our health. Here there is a big demand for cardiology services, and we want to offer the community what is needed.

“There are also services that we link closer with King’s. In terms of chronic liver disease, this condition is massively undiagnosed and under-treated in the country. We can treat it to a wide degree and if in case a patient would eventually need a liver transplant then they would be referred and sent to London. You can expect us to do 80 per cent of the work so people don’t need to actually travel outside the UAE. Neurosurgery is another area where we are very closely linked to King’s in London, as well as metabolic and bariatric cases.”

Dr. Ramanathan added: “We are trying to bring in these services so that the patient doesn’t have to travel and can receive the UK level of specialised care right at home. We will have services such as teleradiology and teleconference where patients will have consultation directly with experts in the UK, while sitting right next to the physician here. So, that’s the benefit we have with our very close links with King’s in London. We have experts, professors in the UK who will be visiting and call managing a lot of our cases together here. We have already had a couple of cases here where patients have been successfully call-managed.”

Receiving a second opinion is an easy example of how this collaboration would work, explained Schuhmacher. If any of the patients want another opinion or if the physicians want to discuss a case with their colleagues, they can easily get in touch. This, he said, would give patients an added confidence and assurance that the level of care provided in the hospital would meet the same standards as that of King’s in London.

Emphasis on prevention

The CEO stressed that the hospital’s business model is all about delivering the right level of care. “However, the ideal care is one that you don’t have to deliver,” he said. “We take care of our patients above and beyond just prescribing drugs. One example of this would be our close relationships with schools.”

King’s runs a few school clinics in the UAE, which allows it to work closely with the institutions and shape healthy behaviours right from a young age. It works with schools in terms of offering insights into right nutrition, how to educate kids on being active, and how to look after their own health, among other factors.

The other way King’s puts emphasis on prevention is by employing the latest technology. Schuhmacher stressed that technology is important when it makes a difference to the patient and to clinicians and the whole driver behind the hospital investing in it is to achieve patient safety, enabling integration so all the systems can communicate to each other and avoid human error.

The hospital is using the pharmacy-led Omnicell end-to-end automated medication management process, an automated dispensing technology combined with barcode medication administration and electronic prescribing. This ensures medication management is optimised to a safe, fully traceable, paperless system at the point of care and clear visibility of patient therapy management.

Furthermore, King’s is reportedly the only facility in the UAE to have an EOS imaging system. It is an advanced orthopaedic imaging technology that gives doctors a clear 3D view of the patient’s musculoskeletal system and helps them make decisions regarding the patient’s treatment. This replaces the need to take four to six X-rays, as it automatically stitches the scans together and boasts greater accuracy. It only exposes patients to 10 per cent of the radiation normally required and has a micro radiation dose option making it highly effective for paediatric orthopaedics.

Also unique to the hospital is the King’s ‘Getwell Network’, which is equipped with an edutainment system offering patients entertainment, as well as interactive information about their condition at the touch of their fingertips. For example, a patient undergoing surgery can learn everything relating to their procedure, condition management and what to expect during the recovery period through interactive media that is adapted specifically to the patient. While all this information is explained by the doctor, patients benefit from having a one-stop-shop portal to access from the hospital or remotely from home at any time through the Patient Portal.

Schuhmacher highlighted: “For example, if someone comes in for a gastro procedure then they will get access to material such as nutrition, what you should be cautious of, how you can improve your lifestyle to prevent something else from happening. It’s not about treating you for a condition you have right now, but it’s about really looking after you and what we call the ‘King’s care’ that we are trying to establish.”

Dr. Ramanathan added: “Family medicine is a big part of what our services are, within the clinic as well as in the hospital setting. We want to reach out to the communities and want to be able to provide that primary preventative mechanism.”

She highlighted that one of the services they offer is the Well Baby and Well Mum clinic that offers education and antenatal classes. “We are taking some of those initiatives onto the King’s Big Bus, which will go around the neighbourhood and interact with the different communities of Dubai.”

Future plans

Schuhmacher shared that the hospital has provisions to add another 100 beds, in order to double the capacity. “From breaking ground to completing the facility, it took us 19 months. So, the moment we decide to go for the next 100 beds it would take another 18 months. We are always exploring opportunities in the UAE for any additional clinics. We have carved out our niche. There will be growth, but it will be sustainable,” he said.

Dr. Ramanathan concluded: “From the clinical perspective, there are certain identified gaps within the UAE. I think we have opened with quite a broad general spectrum of services. With time we will start providing a deeper amount of quality of care within each of those services, arm-in-arm with King’s in London.

“Teaching and training is something that we feel is important coming from an academic institution in the UK. We are planning to have comprehensive programmes for medical students, residents, undergraduates, postgraduates and nursing within our hospital.”

Services Offered

The hospital specialises in five core areas – Paediatrics, Cardiology, Orthopaedics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Metabolic Diseases, as well as offer integrated pathways with King’s in London in Chronic Liver disease, Foetal Medicine, Haematology as well as several other areas. It also provides acute and general care services in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Emergency Department, Cardiology, Endocrinology, ENT, Family Medicine, Foetal Medicine and Neonatology, Gastroenterology, General Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Paediatric Surgery, Breast, Thyroid and Colorectal surgery, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, Radiology, Urology and Neurology.