3 vital steps to beat the UAE doctor crisis



It’s no secret that the healthcare providers and clinics in the UAE are going through some difficult days causing financial strain for many smaller facilities.

Added to that, the ongoing challenge of finding suitable specialist physicians to staff those clinics is piling on further pressure. The basic laws of demand and supply mean that those specialists who are available can command eye-wateringly high remuneration packages. As a result, many clinics are struggling to find quality physicians at affordable rates.

However, improving the way your clinic operates can help you withstand this crisis. Here are three smart management moves to consider now.

  1. Improve utilisation and create a free-flow network of doctors

If your clinic is struggling with patient numbers and you employ several specialists such as cardiologists, oncologists, gynaecologists and anaesthesiologists, their time may be considerably underused. Given their expertise, insight and experience, these high-level healthcare professionals don’t come cheap at the best of times.

However, if – like many specialists working in the UAE – their skills are not being constantly utilised, it can seem as though they are fulfilling a part-time role.

If this is the case, it’s time to seriously reconsider how to deploy these highly skilled individuals to the best effect.

One feasible solution is to create a network of doctors, allowing their expertise to be shared with other like-minded clinics. This will enable these specialists to work between several different healthcare facilities, hospitals and clinics and maximise their utilisation. The ability to match the right specialist and provider is a highly developed art that goes beyond the commercial and operational parameters.

How will this benefit your clinic?

Enabling specialists to work in this way will save your clinic money – as you’ll only pay for the hours you use them – while ensuring that you retain access to highly experienced medical staff.

This way of working is also beneficial to the doctors themselves, enabling them to expand their loyal client base, further develop their experience and build a positive reputation.

In addition, by collaborating with other clinics in a network, your business will be able to boost its overall performance by pooling access to a wider range of experts. This will automatically give you an advantage over standalone independent clinics that are not able to leverage these relationships.

Plus, if you can successfully share staff in a positive way with other clinics, you’ll be in a better position to share other resources, better align your interests and collaborate in other ways too. This approach allows small clinics to benefit from the economies of scale normally only enjoyed by large facilities.

  1. Embrace digital health

If your clinic is struggling to offer the financial compensation specialist doctors have come to expect, medical technology is offering a growing number of convenient and efficient ways to meet the treatment, care, and support needs of patients.

Digital health tools such as telemedicine consultations via video call make things easier where both prevention and cure are concerned. Similarly, telehealth, where patients with long-term conditions can have their vital signs monitored remotely, is increasingly popular as it reduces the need for time-consuming, face-to-face appointments.

Another possibility is the creation of online support groups where similar patients can ‘meet’ with a doctor to discuss the challenges they are facing. This wouldn’t be a substitute for a private face-to-face appointment but may make a valuable add-on.

How will this benefit your clinic?

Innovation can only reflect positively on your clinic – giving you an advantage over competitors. It’s also seen as a huge draw for forward-thinking medical professionals who understand how powerful IT can be in modern medicine.

For example, using AI and machine-learning to analyse data enables doctors to identify anomalies in a particular patient’s case. Similarly, the use of ‘internet of things’ devices in telehealth allows them to remotely monitor patient progress and get direct, real-time access to each piece of data.

Plus, by offering a number of different ways for patients to connect with healthcare professionals and each other, you’ll be more likely to create demand for your services. And wherever there are patients, doctors will follow.

  1. Perfect your clinic’s soft skills

Just like other types of employees, physicians can often clash over working styles, management hierarchies, seniority and expertise.

While as a clinic owner, you may feel that it’s important that your employees toe the line, you don’t want to risk losing talented medical practitioners either. After all, given the demand for their services here in the UAE, it’s likely that they will find another job very easily – probably at a competitor clinic – leaving you lacking in-house expertise and potentially damaging the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build for your clinic.

How will this benefit your clinic?

Excellent interpersonal skills – between doctor and patient – are the cornerstone of the medical profession. But just as importantly, being able to resolve staff disputes and retain talent is a great soft skill for any clinic owner to have.

For example, as well as looking for specific training to give you the confidence to intervene in matters, it’s important to ensure that physicians feel as though their expertise matters. Therefore, small gestures – such as getting them involved in department planning or requesting their insider knowledge to fix some of your clinic’s problem areas – can make them feel appreciated (and in control) and will appease their egos. It may sound simple, but these things are important to keep in mind.

A healthy outlook

As the UAE’s health expenditure is expected to double from AED 50.3bn in 2018 to AED 95.5bn in 2028, demand for physicians is only going to increase. Instead of being concerned that you’re missing out, look at smart ways to pool expertise, enjoy economies of scale and take advantage of the best tools, equipment and patient support you can afford.

After all, physicians ultimately want to make a difference, and if your clinic can provide them with what they need to do that – and ensure that they have somewhere they feel empowered to do their best – you’re sure to emerge as a major player.

The Healthcare Network (THN) brings together healthcare providers and insurers in a partnership based on the fundamentals of ethical performance, values and the quality of care delivery. For more information, visit www.thn.ae