Dr Salem Abu Khaizaran – Expanding & Advancing Digital Health

Dr Salem Abu Khaizaran
Dr Salem Abu Khaizaran

In the competitive era, the measures and offerings that have served the system are connected through the service provisional firms. While considering the health systems, to bring in a change by offering an exclusive set of provisions is challenging to achieve.

While understanding the modern world spectrum, new trends and practices have enhanced the way healthcare systems operate, thus excelling while expanding globally while maintaining standards.

As the global condition intensively changes its course, the measures to help and maintain inclusive operations while offering the specialized services are brought forth through the prime leader and Chairperson of the Board of DirectorsArab Hospitals GroupDr Salem Abu Khaizaran while attaining quality services and disrupting the healthcare sector.

While redefining and disrupting through the barriers of the financial system, Arab Hospitals Group has inculcated advanced technology and their healthcare model efficiently develops the healthcare province through new services and innovative based practices.

Let’s delve in and understand how the transformative leader tackled through the barriers while providing digi-health services:

Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Arab Hospitals Group.

My journey began when I came back from England, where I was working as an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. I was in the phase of changing jobs to enter the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) world from one side and looking for permanent housing for the family from the other side. During a job interview, I got the question of when you will go back to Palestine to start an IVF journey there. This is when I first had the idea of going back to Palestine in mind. Shortly after that, I started communicating with hospitals in Palestine right away and finally decided to head back home with my family in 1994.

Two years later, I established the first IVF center in Palestine, Razan Center for Infertility, named after my eldest child Razan. Our IVF center was the fourth in the Middle East, and it was established only 15 years after the first ever IVF child was born in 1978.

What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today? Enlighten us on how you have impacted the healthcare niche through your expertise in the market.

The journey would not have been possible without the help of our team, who are still part of the Razan family today, and also our international friends who came during tough times to Palestine to help us achieve successful results.

Shortly after the successful pregnancy stories our center helped to achieve, we noticed a need for specialized hospital wards like Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and Laparoscopic Surgeries. We saw the need in these two specific areas because they are closely connected to IVF. This was when we had the idea of establishing the first hospital in 1998. Specialized Arab Hospital (SAH) was our first success story; we were able to lift the huge burden of the lack of specialized services in the Palestinian health system. This hospital witnessed the first Kidney transplant in Palestine and had a specialized Cardiac Surgery center and a bundle of Tertiary care services. For us to provide these services, we had to train our healthcare providers in-house with the help of international teams who were coming from different countries to supervise and train our local teams.

After gaining the trust of the public and developing a very close and high-trust relationship with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, we were able to establish our second hospital in a new city. Istishari Arab Hospital (IAH) in Ramallah provided high dependency beds and a wide range of tertiary care services including Chemotherapy. Our health system was relying on highly specialized services provided by neighbouring counties that were reimbursed at prohibitive costs.

With the limited access to care in the Palestinian setting and the fact that our patients need travel permits to receive care, our hospital helped a lot of patients overcome the hassles of traveling and the long waiting times to access the needed services. Our IAH hospital is working with solar panels through our investment in a renewable energy source. This investment has helped us operate with maximum efficiency and save on our electricity costs.

Our third success story is Ibn Sina Specialized Hospital (ISH) in Jenin. This hospital was established yet in another city during the Covid-19 crisis and helped our government with the ICU beds shortage during that difficult period. We decided to include a dialysis unit in this hospital since our public hospitals are working at full capacity to help patients needing dialysis.

What change would you like to bring to the healthcare industry if given a chance? Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Arab Hospitals Group?

Our group is proud of the fact that we provide high-quality services. Our first hospital was the first hospital to receive the ISO-9000 certification in Palestine. Istishari Arab Hospital was the first private hospital to receive the Joint Commission Accreditation and our newly established hospital will work to receive the same accreditation in the coming year. Another thing we value is that we were able to attract the most important Palestinian medical professionals who dreamed of returning to Palestine. We promise to always strive to deliver the highest quality care provided with Palestinian hands.

The next two projects are the Liquid Oxygen Manufacturing Plant and the Istishari Cancer Center (ICC). During the Covid crisis, we realized that all our liquid oxygen needs were imported, so we studied the fact that we can establish our units to cover the Palestinian needs. This project will start operating within a few months. As for the ICC, this cancer center will provide radiotherapy services for the first time in Palestine.

Our journey as a group was hard and we had to come through a lot to achieve where we are today. Put aside the difficult political and financial situation our government is facing, the idea of privatizing health services is still new to the government, patients, and even our employees. This is extremely challenging, especially since we lack universal health coverage or a solid public health insurance system.

Regardless of all, the Arab Hospitals Group will continue to work to close the gaps in health services provided in Palestine. Our primary focus is to include services not provided by our public hospitals. Our journey will not be easy, but we believe we are on our way. On the other side, the healthcare world is continuously evolving and is depending more and more on technology. Since we believe that our understanding of how healthcare works is deep, we believe we have a huge responsibility to contribute to this digital health revolution.

Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.

The mission of our Group is to be recognized as a trusted leader in the Palestinian healthcare system and as a national leader in secondary and tertiary care services, incorporating innovative and evidence–based practices.

We provide a comprehensive healthcare service through evidence-based clinical practices and excellence in delivering quality healthcare services with a strong believe in education and clinical research. We play an active role in promoting and expanding the national healthcare system horizon through collaborations with a wide range of partners to address the needs of the Palestinian community while complying with national and international recognized hospital standards.

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.

One of our best qualities as a workplace is that we believe that our employees are owners. We emphasis the ownership principle in our work culture. It’s always delightful to see that a lot of our employees started the journey with us and are still part of our family today. Without the support from them we would not have reached where we are today.

Another value we always emphasis is that we believe in continuous training and education. We were among the first institutes to establish continuous education and training units in Palestine. Since the start, we had strongly believed in capacity building.

Given that a lot of our projects and work areas were new to the Palestinian healthcare market, we had to train our own staff. At first, we were relying so much on the international training teams, but year by year our senior teams started training our junior teams. Some are still working with us to this day; others left their jobs to join other hospitals, which is very pleasing to us. Our teams are growing, and they are benefiting the community no matter which hospitals they are working with.

What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the healthcare sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?

Covid-19 highlighted the importance of technology in this fast-changing world and most importantly the increasing role of digitalization in healthcare institutes.

I believe that our experience and knowledge of healthcare and medical issues are boundless, thus the responsibility to tackle all the health-related challenges and join efforts to contribute to the wave of the rising role of technology in providing care.

Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?

We have exciting collaborations with local and international educational institutions to promote the use of Artificial Intelligence in health. We are training our staff for the new era in the hope of developing new services in alignment with our classical healthcare delivery model.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the healthcare sector?

My advice to budding entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector is that the journey needs hard work and it’s a continuous learning journey. Be patient, be humble and keep an open mind to everything around you. Finally, there are still a lot of areas not touched nor discussed by big businesses or even governments that are worthy of close attention. It’s always important to tackle these new challenges or obstacles, and don’t re-do what others handled before you. There is still huge potential to leave footprints in the healthcare sector.