Strap: Cleveland Clinic’s guiding principal is its ‘Patients First’ philosophy, which impacts everything that they do at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
By: Jayata Sharma
Cleveland Clinic is a brand that needs no introduction. Worldwide, this healthcare player has made its presence felt by being one of the top in its game. Be it innovations or patient care.
Hence, when we approached Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD), we were sure of landing an interview with total focus on patient care and clinical advancements. The organisation’s role in shaping healthcare in the GCC cannot be ignored.
It is proven by the fact that very recently, it was the first facility to complete UAE’s first full heart transplant. Not only this, CCAD is also the first and only multi-organ transplant facility in the country. In fact, in our previous edition, we have a detailed account about its transplant program.
CCAD, part of Mubadala’s network of world-class healthcare providers, is a multispecialty hospital on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It is a unique and unparalleled extension of US-based Cleveland Clinic’s model of care, specifically designed to address a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the population in UAE.
CCAD has the following institutes: Heart & Vascular, Neurological, Digestive Disease, Eye, Respiratory & Critical Care, Surgical Subspecialties, Medical Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Imaging, Quality & Patient Safety, and Clinical & Nursing. In all, more than 30 medical and surgical specialties are represented here.
The facilities at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi combine state-of-the-art amenities and world-class service standards. The hospital is a 364 (expandable to 490) bed facility, with five clinical floors, three diagnostic and treatment levels, and 13 floors of critical and acute inpatient units. It is a physician-led medical facility served by North American/European Board Certified (or equivalent) physicians. The facility provides patients in the region direct access to the world’s best healthcare providers and Cleveland Clinic’s unique model of care, reducing their need to travel abroad for treatment.
In a detailed interview with Dr. Rakesh Suri, Acting CEO of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, we explore more about what makes Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi the brand of patient care that it is.
What drives clinical excellence at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi?
CCAD is a physician-led medical institution where every aspect of patient care has been developed with the patient in mind. Cleveland Clinic’s guiding principal is our ‘Patients First’ philosophy, which impacts everything we do at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
As a direct expansion of the Cleveland Clinic model of care, we have built upon almost 100 years of excellence at Cleveland Clinic in the United States and bring that same level of expertise and patient care to Abu Dhabi. Our physicians and medical staff, many of whom worked at Cleveland Clinic previously, collaborate very closely with their colleagues in the United States.
We employ Cleveland Clinic’s globally recognised standard of care to every aspect of the patient experience. This enables us to focus on the core elements of our mission: delivering exceptional levels of complex and critical care, promoting knowledge transfer across all hospital functions, and monitoring every step of the patient journey.
How did the collaboration between Mubadala and Cleveland Clinic in the US happen?
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is the result of an agreement signed in 2006 between Mubadala Investment Company and the US-based Cleveland Clinic in support of the Abu Dhabi government’s Economic Vision 2030 to develop a robust, world-class healthcare sector in the Emirate. Their shared vision is to bring the highest international standards of patient care to treat the complex and critical healthcare needs of the Abu Dhabi population. Cleveland Clinic was selected because it specialises in treating many of the health challenges affecting the Abu Dhabi population.
After just 18 months of operations, the hospital earned the JCI’s Gold Seal of Approval. How did you achieve this?
At Cleveland Clinic in the US, we have standardised the process of quality care delivery, assessment and continuous improvement. This is built into our DNA through our global organisation. When we began operations at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in March 2015, we leveraged those decades of experience to deliver that same level of standardisation and world-class care delivery that we are accustomed to at our main campus and other branches. We were honored to be given the highest accolade from Joint Commission International (JCI). During their visit, they said: “This is as good as it gets.” However, we do not see this as an end point, but rather the beginning of a journey that we will continuously strive to deliver the highest quality of complex and critical care to our patients as part of our ‘Patient First’ motto.
Is there any disease pattern shift that Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi noticed from the time the facility launched, up until now?
What’s interesting is that we are noticing the same types of diseases here as we do in Europe and North America, such as cardiovascular disease, the UAE’s number one killer. Perhaps the two most striking things that I have noted as a hospital administrator and a heart surgeon is that patients come to us with disease earlier and they often go undiagnosed for longer. One of the things that we are excited to deliver to the people of Abu Dhabi and the nation is a greater detection network, such as when diseases are present without symptoms, and we can diagnose them before they become life threatening. We can treat them earlier and restore people to normal life expectancies, allowing them to enjoy a healthy life for decades. Our intention is to bring the most cutting-edge and innovative therapies available to help our patients here, preventing them from having to travel and leave their friends and family to receive life-saving care.
CCAD has had some ‘clinical firsts’ in the region and must have also pioneered some techniques here as well. Kindly tell us about them.
The Heart & Vascular Institute offers patients a range of cutting-edge technologies, some of which are only offered at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi or are regional firsts. The most notable surgeries performed by our world-class team of surgeons include:
- The region’s first ablation procedure with zero fluoroscopy exposure;
- Removed a rare heart tumour with a minimally-invasive technique that stopped the heart for only 20 minutes, enabling the patient to be discharged after only four days;
- The implantation of a Heartware Left Ventricular Assist Device to support a failing heart;
- Totally endoscopic triple coronary artery bypass;
- Catheter-based replacement of two heart valves in one session;
- Performed the first leadless pacemaker implant in Abu Dhabi.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Digestive Disease Institute also leads the way in gastrointestinal care in the region through a number of advanced, cutting-edge procedures. These include minimally invasive and robotic bariatric, hernia, gastrointestinal and colorectal surgeries, as well as cutting-edge endoscopic procedures for tumor resection, and the treatment of achalasia, and pancreatic and biliary diseases.
The Digestive Disease Institute team has also performed several clinical firsts, including the first Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) procedures in the Middle East region to treat achalasia, a rare condition that prevents food from passing into the stomach.
To stay ahead in patient care, one needs to stay updated with the technological advancements. What are the latest technologies at CCAD.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is playing a pioneering role in introducing advanced technologies and sophisticated therapies to the UAE. Several our Institutes, including the Heart & Vascular Institute, Digestive Disease Institute and the Surgical Subspecialties Institute, all offer robotic surgeries. The urology team also performs a range of innovative robotic-assisted surgeries, such as robotic prostatectomies, robotic-assisted renal surgery for kidney cancer and ureteropelvic junction obstruction, robotic cystectomies for bladder cancer and the treatment of infertility, including rare cases of varicocele.
Our facility is also one of the few hospitals in the GCC to use 3D printing toward advancing heart surgeries and catheter-based interventions. In healthcare, 3D printing helps us to personalise care while also minimising risk and maximising positive outcomes for patients. Although 3D printing can only be used for specific types of heart surgeries and dedicated percutaneous interventions, such as valve and device implants and surgery for congenital heart diseases, the future application of 3D printing is to use this technology to help create custom organ implants for specific patients. This is just one of the many examples of how Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi pairs technological innovation with human expertise to help advance surgery outcomes for our patients. Using this technology in smart, innovative ways will help the hospital continue to provide high-quality, patient-specific care.
The hospital has held Operation Smile under the Year of Giving. What prompted you to be associated with this?
We hosted Operation Smile, the charity committed to providing thousands of free operations to people suffering from cleft lips and palates, in July. The hospital made two operating rooms available to the charity’s medical volunteers, along with food and other supplies, while 186 staff from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi volunteered their time to assist – more than twice the number of volunteers required. It was fitting that in the UAE Year of Giving, we assisted the Operation Smile charity in transforming people’s lives through life-changing surgery. We are also very proud that so many hardworking nurses and team members volunteered their time to help. We spent months preparing for the event and ensuring that Operation Smile patients received the same outstanding levels of care as all our other patients.
How do you work on patient satisfaction, communication, feedback & overall care?
Our hospital has 13 institutes representing more than 30 medical and surgical specialities.
This institute model enables the hospital to offer coordinated, multidisciplinary care built around the needs of each patient, supported by specialist physicians who are accessible around-the-clock. Our main campus, Cleveland Clinic, was the first major academic medical centre to make the patient experience a strategic goal, appoint a Chief Experience Officer, and one of the first to establish an Office of Patient Experience. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, as an expansion of the Cleveland Clinic model of care in the Middle East, employs that same dedication to the patient experience in all aspects of the care provided from the moment patients arrive to the moment they leave.
What are the new technological trends you are excited about that will redefine the face of patient excellence?
We are currently building a portal that enables patients to access their health records and test results directly, improving the flow of information between patients and their care team. It will also allow them to schedule appointments and communicate with their healthcare team directly in a fast and user-friendly way. One of the principal challenges in healthcare is facilitating communication between providers and patients and we are excited about tackling this industry-wide concern.
What is your patient experience plan in 2017-18?
Out next steps include the roll-out of a Patient Experience Standards program that will allow for a consistent adoption and implementation of patient-centred practices across the organisation.
We will also complete development and deploy the first healthcare-specific patient experience training program in the UAE – Tawasol – to share the best practices we have developed as part of our role as the foundation of a more sustainable healthcare sector in the country. Another of our main focuses will be the co-ordination of care efforts across the hospital and on delivering a seamless experience across the various touchpoints at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
We have a clear vision to put patients first, striving to deliver excellent clinical outcomes supported by compassionate care and first-rate service. Quality of service, patient experience and safety are the hospital’s highest priorities.
The hospital has an attractive design. Tell us a bit more about it.
There is a direct correlation between design and patient experience and it is one that we kept in mind from the beginning of the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi project. A well-designed facility is conducive to a better mood and which can have a positive impact on healing.
Throughout the design process, we made sure to keep the patient experience at the centre of all our planning. This meant not only designing a pleasant facility that would help put our patients at ease through features such as large atriums and ample natural light, but also designing our facility around the way our medical staff works. The layout of patient rooms and other areas of the hospital were developed with the aim of supporting greater efficiency in our delivery of care to patients.
So far this year, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has achieved the following in terms of patient numbers:
- Number of completed appointments (from January 1, 2017, to Q3): 292,209
- Number of surgeries (from January 1, 2017, to Q3): 12,388
- Since opening in March 2015 to October 27, 2017, CCAD has received 689,562 patient encounters and completed 23,381 surgical cases and 13,117 hospital admissions.
Awards & Honours
Since opening in March 2015, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has been honored with a range of awards, certifications and accreditations, including:
- HIMSS Elsevier Digital Healthcare Award
- HAAD JAWDA “People’s Choice” Award in the largest hospitals category
- Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) Licensing Audi
- Joint commission International (JCI) Accreditation Survey
- College of American Pathologists (CAP) Accreditation
- Hospitality Assured
- ISO 22000 2005 Food Safety
- HACCP Food Safety
- HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption ModelSM (EMRAMSM) Stage 7
- HIMSS Award for Safe Blood Transfusion Practices