Interview: Mariam Ali Abdul Malik

How can the health care system contribute to improved public health outcomes?

MARIAM ALI ABDUL MALIK: The imminent introduction of a mandatory health insurance system places primary care at the forefront of public health, and pushes providers to deliver comprehensive services that prioritise prevention, chronic disease management and patient engagement. The success of this approach will be measured by improved health outcomes and a subsequent reduction in overall costs, as a healthier population translates to fewer emergency admissions and hospital treatments.

To reduce hospital-related expenditure, the government established the PHCC and invested in primary health care infrastructure, resulting in an increase in clinical space and improved access for patients. The adoption of the family medicine model epitomises a patient-centred approach and aligns with the patient-centred medical home concept. Family physicians oversee comprehensive care and ensure coordination across providers and care levels. The emphasis is on prevention, screening and early detection. For example, the PHCC uses targeted screening programmes and annual health checks to address physical and mental wellness, as well as initiatives targeted at individuals over 60 to identify and address health issues early, and reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

By what means can health care providers best improve safety standards and the quality of care?

ABDUL MALIK: It is important to prioritise the continuous training and education of health care professionals to keep them abreast of the latest medical advancements and patient safety protocols. Implementing robust quality assurance programmes, including regular audits and evaluations, is central to consistently meeting high standards. Acknowledging the importance of effective communication helps foster a culture that optimises care coordination and minimises risks. Investment in technological advancements, such as electronic health records and virtual consultation platforms, aims to streamline processes and enhance accuracy. Regular feedback allows providers to enhance services.

In what ways are health care operators helping bridge capacity gaps in the delivery of health care?

ABDUL MALIK: In response to the need for increased health care capacity in Qatar, substantial investment has been made in alignment with the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030. Sixteen new health centres along with seven hospitals have been established since 2014, and the health care landscape includes exceptional private providers in both primary and hospital care, contributing significantly to capacity enhancement.

The upcoming health insurance system aims to expand clinics and attract new providers. The overarching vision involves creating a well-integrated health market and an environment in which private operators can address health needs and offer new services based on agreed-upon standards of care.

To what extent has Qatar been able to meet the rising demand for medical professionals?

ABDUL MALIK: Through active international recruitment initiatives, well-qualified health care professionals are being brought in from various countries. Official recruitment missions have been conducted to address workforce needs and ensure that there are competent clinicians capable of meeting local demand. Ensuring the retention of recruited health care professionals is equally crucial, requiring the implementation of various strategies to enhance job satisfaction and well-being.

The PHCC contributes to the local talent pool through community engagement initiatives, participation in career fairs, and providing scholarships and training programmes. It also supports professionals in obtaining licences from the Department of Healthcare Professions, and running the Family and Community Residency programme to boost the number of family physicians.