Interview: Hanan Al Kuwari

In what ways has the introduction of primary health care providers affected HMC’s operations?

AL KUWARI: Qatar’s National Health Strategy of 2011-16 clearly outlines that a robust and sustainable continuum of care is based on providing the right care at the right time in the right setting, to ensure that the best interests of the patient are served. The growth of an effective and professional primary health care sector in Qatar has been strongly supported by HMC. Primary health care centres are increasingly capable of delivering preventative health care within communities, thereby freeing HMC up to make the considerable investments in specialist infrastructure and manpower needed to develop secondary and tertiary care.

As the country’s health care system matures, most patients with non-emergency medical issues will visit their local primary health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, with more complex cases being referred to specialist care centres in our hospitals. We will introduce a new model of care which will bring more specialist services to our community hospitals, meaning patients will not have to travel to Doha except if they need highly complex care. We have successfully tested this model in our women’s health services network.

Many patients currently receiving long-term hospital care or who regularly attend hospital outpatient clinics will have their treatment transferred to community facilities closer to home. This will also facilitate improved access to complex care for those patients who need it most.

What are HMC’s development plans with regards to tertiary health care services?

AL KUWARI: HMC is committed to rejuvenating current facilities and expanding capacity, particularly in the areas of specialised health care, education and research. We plan to develop additional tertiary services in Doha, and a key focus of our HMC Facilities Master Plan is on the development of tertiary services through the construction of new hospitals and specialist clinics. These include the Women’s Wellness and Research Centre, Ambulatory Care Centre and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute in Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City. Additionally, a new communicable diseases hospital currently under construction will be the first of its kind in the region.

What plans are under way for further health infrastructure to ease the burden on existing facilities?

AL KUWARI: Our facilities have seen exponential increases in demand for outpatient and inpatient services, giving rise to the expansion of secondary care services throughout the country. Our HMC Facilities Master Plan sets out measures to deliver the highest quality of care that will see hospital beds doubled by 2030. The HMC Facilities Master Plan will have a significant impact on the delivery of health care services in Qatar, more than doubling the number of specialist clinics available across the Hamad system and doubling operating theatre capacity. A new state-of-the-art tertiary hospital, a new cancer hospital and new ambulatory centres means that between 2015 and 2030, specialist clinics will increase from 400 to over 1000 and, within the same timeframe, operating theatre capacity will increase from 40 to more than 90.

HMC has opened three new hospitals in recent years: Al Wakra Hospital and Cuban Hospital, which provide general hospital services outside Doha, and the specialist Heart Hospital in Doha. The expansion of diabetes clinics at two of our largest hospitals is making specialised care more accessible to patients and supports our model of developing a standardised system that maximises patient convenience across multiple sites.

We have increased the number of specialised clinical experts implementing numerous process enhancements, increasing capacity and performance. The future of Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City will promote a comprehensive, integrated, clinical campus aligned with our expansion plans across Qatar and reflects the needs and desires of the population we care for.