American Hospital: Health in good AI hands

Sherif Beshara, CEO of Mohamed and Obaid Al Mulla Group, shares his thoughts, as the American Hospital Dubai gears up to lead in digitised, smart clinical services

Published: Tue 18 Feb 2020, 9:54 AM

Last updated: Tue 18 Feb 2020, 12:03 PM

With advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), robots are becoming increasingly sophisticated at doing what humans do - but more efficiently and at a lower cost. The potential for both AI and robotics in healthcare is enormous, according to Sherif Beshara, chief executive officer of Mohamed and Obaid Al Mulla Group, which operates American Hospital Dubai, premier private healthcare provider in the Middle East.

"AI increases the ability of healthcare professionals to better understand needs and provide better feedback, guidance, and support for maintaining one's health. Decreasing cost and better clinical outcomes is what AI essentially is. It is being used to detect diseases like cancer in its early stages, more accurately," he said.

Since its inception in 1996, American Hospital has maintained a highly respected position among the domestic and regional medical communities. In keeping with its strategy and vision, the hospital is taking concrete steps towards building and establishing a comprehensive hospital-wide AI implementation, which will be overseen by the newly established digital innovation and optimisation department. "Taking things further, we also started a training programme in conjunction with the American University in Sharjah, wherein students can get a closer look at the already-installed and utilised AI and robotic systems at American Hospital. We are working to train the first Emirati doctor on the use of the da Vinci Xi surgical robot in order to encourage the transition and paradigm shift from laparoscopy to robotic surgery," Beshara added.

American Hospital is the first medical facility in Dubai to offer the fourth generation of da Vinci Xi surgical system to conduct robotic surgery services. This solidifies the emirate's position as a regional hub for medical tourism among patients that seek world-class professional care.

"AI, machine learning, and every technology that changes the healthcare landscape is at the heart of our philosophy. We provide our patients access to world-leading medical expertise, which is not possible without moving at the pace of technology, which is changing the healthcare scenario on the global level," he said.

The demand for AI- and robotics-driven medical procedures is increasing, effectively disrupting the healthcare industry and changing a lot of things in the sector to present superior healthcare options for patients.

"We are at a digital stage and AI in healthcare is inevitable, playing an important role in disease prevention and diagnosis, while also helping put data into perspective for use across clinical trials to develop customised drugs. The region is already progressing towards the better use of AI and machine learning in healthcare, with countries like the UAE leading the bandwagon," Beshara said.

Apart from creating huge value, the technology will also benefit the industry in many ways, resulting in tremendous savings for the region - as per a report by McKinsey that estimates big data could save medicine and pharma up to $100 billion annually. AI also promises improved efficiencies in clinical trials and research, better insight for medical decision, and new tools that will help insurers, regulators, physicians, and consumers make better decisions.

Looking ahead, the American Hospital is currently working on upgrading and strengthening the organisation's IT infrastructure.

"We are aiming for a level wherein we would be able to enable ourselves to make use of what the industry has to offer in terms of digitised, smart, clinical services that would substantially improve a patient's journey. We are also partnering with telecommunications providers to launch an elite tele-health programme," Beshara said.

The hospital is exploring the surgical use of robotics for orthopaedic, spinal and gastric use, and  looking at establishing care test sites to provide personalised clinical services.

Smart robots in healthcare
Surgical procedures across healthcare can benefit from the improvement of accuracy that comes with use of AI and machine learning. The robotic trauma care systems, for example, will ensure that patients in remote locations are given the best possible medical care. The service robots created with the use of AI can perform human functions like making sick or elderly patients feel less lonely. So apart from medical, it has psychological benefit too.

Conversational and companion robots can help such patients stay positive while they keep a tab on basic health check-ups. Another area that this technology has a massive impact on is disease prevention and precise diagnosis, where AI can be used to extract data and derive meaningful results that can be implemented across various clinical trials, especially in complex procedures related to DNA and difficult diseases like cancer.

Sherif Beshara, CEO of Mohamed and Obaid Al Mulla Group
Sherif Beshara, CEO of Mohamed and Obaid Al Mulla Group

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