The dynamic system of healthcare stands on some essential foundational stones. One of the crucial objectives of the services provided by the healthcare sector is to create awareness among the community about the importance of healthcare and improve accessibility to quality healthcare services. The emphasis on this particular objective increases, even more, when it comes to the population of the society which is still underprivileged.
Dr Jamil Ahmed, the Managing Director of Prime Healthcare Group LLC is one of the prominent healthcare leaders in UAE who is striving to fulfil this aim of the noble healthcare service.
In an interview with Insights Care, Dr Ahmed talks about his journey in the healthcare space so far and how he is offering personalized, comprehensive, and affordable quality health care to the community through his role as the Managing Director of Prime Healthcare Group.
Give us a brief overview of your journey at Prime Medical Centres and tell us what inspired you to venture into the healthcare industry.
After completing my post-graduation in Orthopaedic Surgery from one of India’s prestigious medical institutions, I went on to do a Fellowship in Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery from Germany. I came to Dubai in the early 1990s and started my journey as an Orthopaedic Specialist at one of UAE’s oldest private hospitals. It was while working there, I realized that there was a huge segment of population, which was underserved and whose medical issues were getting aggravated, as they avoided visiting a “Hospital” – which according to them, should be visited only in case of fatal and critical diseases, as was the general belief in those days.
It was then, that the idea of setting up a neighbourhood clinic which unlike a hospital, was easy to walk into and had Doctors who were less daunting and easily approachable and was replete with the latest clinical care and technology, germinated in my mind. And that’s how the first Prime Medical Centre came into being at Deira. Since I am a doctor by academic training and profession, it really wasn’t a venture in the Healthcare Industry, but a very natural progression to improving access to good Clinical care, that prompted the setting up of what we now have – Prime Medical Centres.
Tell us more about Prime Medical Centres, its vision, and the key aspects of its stronghold in the global healthcare industry.
From that first Prime Medical Centre in Deira in 1999, we are now a large and growing network of 35 Primary clinics and 14 Speciality Medical Centres in Dubai, Sharjah, and Ajman. Each of these Speciality Centres are supported by full-fledged Diagnostic centres and Pharmacies.
A state-of-the-art 100 bedded Hospital in Dubai completes the circle of care. This has been possible only because of our vision – “to be the most respected healthcare provider in the region, offering the most effective treatment outcomes through the best-in-class professionals”.
Unlike most of the organizations who strive to be the largest, the biggest, our seeking has always been to be the “most respected”. Respect is a PRIME Core value for us, and I believe this is our strength and our offering to all our patients and this is what has led us to have a stronghold in the Healthcare industry in the UAE.
From a leadership perspective, what is your opinion on the impact of the pandemic on the global healthcare sector, and how did you aid your organization to overcome the challenges rooting from the pandemic?
For all the sectors, and more so for healthcare, the pandemic highlighted the need to be agile, flexible, versatile, and digitally relevant. Before the pandemic, more than half of the world’s population did not have access to essential healthcare, and this figure has only increased during the pandemic. Fortunately for us, we were already digitally prepared to launch our digital services, just around the same time the pandemic struck.
PRIME was the first organization to start Tele Health Consults, which were readily taken up as the pandemic ensued. In addition, where it was possible, we organized Work from Home options for our employees, so that the work did not come to a stop because of the Lockdowns and travel restrictions. In addition, ensuring all our employees were vaccinated early on, also gave an assurance of safety to both our patients and staff, during the pandemic times.
What is your opinion on the necessity for healthcare organizations to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when catering to the ever-evolving needs of the healthcare industry?
The natural progression of any industry is to ensure that it aligns itself to the advancements of that day and age, however now it’s just not a necessity but a critical survival aspect for healthcare organizations, to develop digitally advanced systems, processes, and interventions to serve the ever-evolving patient requirements.
What efforts did you and your team at Prime Medical Centres take during the pandemic to sustain operations and ensure the safety of your employees at the same time?
It has been our constant endeavour to build a workplace where both our employees and patients feel safe despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Since we are a healthcare organization, our employees were more aware of the need for vaccination, as compared to employees of other non-healthcare organizations, however, we undertook the following concerted measures to ensure all the employees, right down to the security and valet parking personnel were vaccinated:
- Setting up of an internal COVID Task Force comprising of the relevant subject matter experts as COVID started in March 2020
- Proactively leading the vaccination program including conducting several employee awareness sessions, circulating important updates and FAQs etc.
- Arranging and facilitating the vaccination of employees at our own Centres
- Creation of internal portal for updation on vaccination status and follow ups
In your opinion, what could be the future of the healthcare sector post the pandemic? And how are you strategizing your organization’s operations for that future?
One of the most critical lessons that the pandemic has taught us is that in the face of a disaster, only a well-coordinated response works. Given this new paradigm, that the entire world is faced with, it is clear that as we get into the future, all the sectors and particularly the healthcare sector will need to be more coordinated, cohesive and coherent, among all its cohorts – private, public, vendors, suppliers, employees, government and of course the customers.
The mantra is acknowledging the interdependence on the environment and all the stakeholders and the aspect that has sustained us through the pandemic has been our ability to reorganize ourselves to deliver greater value to all the three legs of the Tripod as I call it – the customer, the employees, and the organization. Through the first two phases of the pandemic, we have seen the organization SURVIVE and STRIVE.
PRIME DIGITAL is a new vertical that focusses on integrating the customer interface processes digitally to deliver a seamless experience to the patients and we have initiated several internal transformation programs, constituting of multi-disciplinary teams, which are focussed on enhancing the patient experience and plugging the gaps to increase the value add to the customer, the employees, and the organization. With these small changes to our operations, we do feel prepared to face the future.
If given a chance, what is the one thing that you would change about the healthcare industry in the Middle East (or worldwide)?
Since it’s wishful thinking, one thing that I would love to see changed, is the insurance companies regulating the cost of healthcare, which sometimes undermines the very principle the Insurance companies are trying to secure in the first place, which is improving access and health.
As an established leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into the healthcare industry?
Health is an aspect that we all aspire to be everlasting, and therefore, my advice to the budding entrepreneurs is that be prepared for the long haul – there are no quick fixes to health. Similarly, the healthcare industry also needs sustained efforts over time to show the required outcomes.
Pertaining to your role as Prime Medical Centres’ Managing Director, how do you envision scaling your organization’s operations and offerings in 2022?
Like I said, we are working towards being a more agile, flexible, and versatile organization, and I see our digital footprint expanding further as we head into 2022.