Since 2014, when it established its first facility in Abu Dhabi, King’s College Hospital London has been bringing expert healthcare to the UAE. In 2017, the medical group expanded to Dubai with a Jumeriah-based medical centre, a recent Marina medical centre, and a premium hospital located in the Dubai Hills estate. All facilities offer a comprehensive range of treatments and diagnostic services, and, of course, each has been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19 and building the post-pandemic healthcare landscape.
Christian Schuhmacher, the newly appointed CEO for King’s College Hospital London in the UAE, weighs in on changing healthcare protocols in a post-COVID-19 world.
Social restrictions saw tele-healthcare and tele-consultations surge. The King’s College Hospital London, like other healthcare organisations, established protocols that allowed patients to interact with doctors and continue treatment from the safety of their homes. It also saw the rise of conventional, old-fashioned house calls, especially in the paediatric and family medicine departments.
“COVID-19 changed the way healthcare operated. It forced everyone to stay at home for safety, pushing hospitals to make doctor and nurse consultations available through other means,” says Schuhmacher. “Our aim, through the strict quarantine measures, and now, was to create a unique, patient-focused experience that provides high quality, safe healthcare.”
However, even with eased restrictions, Schuhmacher feels that healthcare, especially treatment of patients with chronic ailments, will forever change.
“The pandemic has accelerated the drive towards digital health, highlighting its benefits for further use. The system allows for synergies between patients, doctors and consulting specialists, while being economical and quicker in feedback,” he notes. “This can make a world of a difference to patients who need ongoing treatment. The test results and labs can be viewed remotely, diagnosis updated online, and prescriptions recommended and delivered at home,” he adds.
One such example was evident during the peak of the pandemic, when the hospital moved ante-natal classes for pregnant women online.
“These digital courses held out of London helped answer questions for pregnant women, whilst delivering the best healthcare protocols directly from our King’s College Hospital London’s specialty clinics,” he explains.
Equally, over the June 20th weekend, King’s London organised the largest online ante-natal classes in the Middle East.
“This shared core specialty of King’s London is finding greater ease and access amongst local patients through digital platforms, making their long-term use more viable,” he adds.
Post COVID-19 protocols
Whilst the hospital is back at pre-pandemic in-patient capacity, there are strict distancing and hygiene protocols in place for patient safety. “We have marked spaces for distancing to ensure that there is no overcrowding anywhere in the hospital and rooms are thoroughly cleaned between appointments,” stresses Schuhmacher.
These precautions extend to antibody testing for travel clearance and treatment diagnostics, through separated, streamlined registration and testing processes. Additionally, King’s London has also moved to adaptive schedules for consultations.
“We hold ourselves to higher standards that call upon, and honour, our shared name and heritage with the King’s mothership in London. This aligns clear pathways, systems and techniques that dictate infection-control protocols,” he elaborates.
Schuhmacher adds that the hospitals and medical centres in the UAE integrate best practices, honed over decades of service in London, so that clients in the Middle East can avail the best healthcare utilizing the shared information collected across the facility’s sister networks in the UK.
This symbiosis between the UAE and UK King’s College Hospital networks extends beyond COVID-19 best practices. A full third of the doctors and nurses at the UAE hospitals and centres have trained at King’s London in the UK or at its sister facilities.
“In many key areas, like advanced foetal medicine, many of our nurses have trained directly at King’s College Hospital in London. This gives them first-hand training and protocols when it comes to specialised diagnostics for IVF and high-risk pregnancies,” says Schuhmacher. “This level of expertise and shared knowledge is unparalleled anywhere in the country,” he concludes.