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Thu 1 Feb 2007 12:00 AM

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Focusing on the customer

Advet Bhamabhani, CEO of Jebel Ali Hospital explains the thinking behind his ‘boutique hospital’ concept.

Advet Bhamabhani, CEO of Jebel Ali Hospital, is trying to create a healthcare institution with a difference. The self-styled ‘boutique hospital’ aims to stand out by offering a superior level of customer service and developing value added services. Bhamabhani tells Medical Times how he tries to delight the customer whilst maintaining profitability.

Why was the hospital established?

Jebel Ali Hospital is quite different from the other general hospitals in Dubai. First of all, the general trend in Dubai is to do everything on a larger scale. Over here, we’re not doing things bigger, but we’re trying to do them better.

The concept here is to have a boutique hospital that’s smaller in size and is the combination of two concepts, that of a small medical centre where you get a high level of personal care and that of a hospital where you have access to advanced medical services. If you are one of the 300 patients that we treat at the hospital every day, we try our best to make sure that you feel you are the only patient and don’t feel like a number. We treat our patients not just as patients, but as clients as well.

We have regular customer training programmes and we maintain a high staff to patient ratio. 2006 was our first full of year operation and based on daily patient surveys, we have had an overall patient satisfaction rate of 90%.

What services do you offer?

We offer primary health care and all the standard specialities, like paediatrics, gynaecology, obstetrics, orthopaedics and ophthalmology. We plan to launch a number of advanced initiatives, which consist of a cosmetic surgery centre offering advanced plastic and reconstructive surgery. We have launched a bariatric surgery centre, where we’re treating clinically obese patients, which is a trendsetting initiative here because there are very few centres treating specifically obese patients.

How do you manage with 20 beds?

The way the medical world is evolving is that recovery and treatment times are becoming much shorter and things are moving towards day care. A lot of surgeries are same day in and out; you’re admitted in the morning and usually discharged the same day. The number of beds is not a large factor any more. Now, even if you go under a general anaesthesia procedure, you can still be out by evening.

What procedures do you offer?

You could get a liposuction; almost all cosmetic surgery procedures are now same day. Previously, most general surgical procedures required opening, which required the patient to go through more pain with a higher risk of complication and infection. Now, you use laparoscopic surgery, which is beneficial for the patient and the hospital.

Is your aspiration to offer superior service reflected in the price?

We are reasonably priced for the quality of service that we offer. We’re not the cheapest, but we definitely offer great value for money.

How do you balance the desire to provide great customer service and take care of people with the need to make a profit?

Definitely, one of our primary objectives besides patient satisfaction is to provide shareholder value. The better the services you offer, the faster the patient is out and that means less cost for him. From our side, we invest in services and that brings a return.

What’s your compensation policy, how do you find people and how do you retain them?

We’re a very performance oriented organisation and our remuneration packages are based on performance. Obviously, we look at local market rates and international rates as well. The bottom line is that salary packages are decided on a case by case basis and based on individual performance.

How do you decide on a package?

There’s a number of factors: Qualifications and experience would be the top two. There is some level of standardisation, but there are differences that reflect differences in experience and qualifications.

Do you think you’re a better payer than the market or in line with it?

We have a had a very low turnover rate and we think that’s a good indicator of not only the packages we offer, but the way we take care of our people. Our staff are here to take care of our patients and it’s our duty to take care of our staff. If staff aren’t happy, patients aren’t happy. Often, patients walk in without a smile and we try to make sure that they walk out with one.

How do you boost the loyalty of your employees?

We have a very flat management structure, there’s no bureaucracy in our organisation and we have open lines of communication. People’s comments are heard and we are able to constantly improve ourselves because of that.

Now that a certain level of CME is mandatory, will you be helping employees with CME costs, or do you think it’s up to them to foot the bill?

We encourage all our personnel to go for regular CME seminars. As of now, we offer ten days paid leave and that’s it. Doctors usually tend to use Arab Health and conferences that happen locally to rack up their credit hours. But now that it’s mandatory and more doctors might be travelling abroad, we will look into that.

What is good about doing business here and what is challenging?

Dubai is one of the fastest growing cities in the world; the economic growth rate is phenomenal. Dubai Healthcare City is really working to establish Dubai as a regional hub, which is helping the entire healthcare sector. The health department is doing a phenomenal job introducing new regulations that are requiring all healthcare providers to really boost the quality of services they offer to international standards.

And what are the challenges of doing business here?

I think recruitment is one of the big challenges. In Dubai, the cost of living is rapidly increasing and is almost on par with the largest cities in the world. Besides recruitment, sometimes getting your hands on new equipment and the latest technology takes much longer than it would in the West. Here, there is a law where you have agents and they have a monopoly on a certain product. You have to work with them, it can take 4-6 months [to source a product] and you cannot approach anybody else. I think that is very anti-competitive.

What are your future plans?

We’ve just introduced cosmetic, bariatric and joint replacement surgery, and our overall objective is to provide advanced care. This year, we’re planning to introduce maternity, for which there is great demand, and neonatology.

Name:

Jebel Ali Hospital

Established:

October 2005

Number of beds:

20

Patient numbers:

Around 300 per day

Services:

Primary health care and specialities including paediatrics, gynaecology, obstetrics, orthopaedics and ophthalmology.

New initiatives:

Cosmetic and bariatric surgery centres; maternity and neonatology.

‘‘We’re a very performance oriented organisation and our remuneration packages are based on performance.”

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magdi 13 years ago

20 beds is not Hospital , 20 beds is Jebel Ali center not hospital .this comment to Mr Bhamabhani we are in 2007 not 1900

Dr. Michelle Lyons 13 years ago

Quite an inspiring read! Being a doctor who is contemplating moving from Denver to Dubai, it’s great to learn that healthcare facilities in Dubai are embracing new concepts and are so focused on patient care. I feel Magdi is way off the mark in his outlook as the trend in the US and Europe is for smaller, specialized hospitals rather than large ones that are infamous for their inefficiencies. So, in my view this hospital is a truly forward thinking organization.