IHF Bulletin: A spotlight on Private Hospitals Association, Jordan

AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. FAWZI AL-HAMMOURI

Chairman, Private Hospitals Association, Jordan

The Private Hospitals Association (PHA) is a voluntary, non-profit organization that was established in 1984, representing 58 private hospitals and medical centers in Jordan. The association’s vision is to assist members in providing integrated high-quality healthcare services to their patients and building the hospitals’ capacity to become globally competitive.

PHA represents the private hospitals in various councils including; High Health Council, Jordanian Medical Council, Jordanian Nursing Council, Health Care Accreditation Council, Royal Health Awareness Society, Jordanian Air Ambulance Center and recently the National Epidemiology Committee to manage COVID-19 crisis in Jordan.

Since 2004, I’ve Chaired the Private Hospitals Association in Jordan, a significant improvement in the performance of the private hospitals was seen and this was awarded by achieving the “Best Practice” certificate twice and the “Seal of Excellence” by the King Abdullah II Award for Excellence. In addition, the award “Jordan as the best medical tourism destination for the year 2014”.

KEY CHALLENGES FOR SERVICE DELIVERY IN JORDAN

High operating costs in the hospitals sector, raising the income tax, raising the sales tax on medical supplies, high electricity tariffs for hospitals.

Also one of the main challenges is talents brain drain, which leads the private hospitals to increase their salaries. In addition, the economic situation is currently not stable in Jordan.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS FOR SERVICE DELIVERY

The Jordanian medical reputation excelled since the 1970s, it was the first in the MENA region to conduct open-heart surgery, kidney transplant, stem cell transplant, and many more. Jordan is distinguished by the availability of highly qualified Jordanian healthcare providers and hospitals are equipped with the latest medical equipment and technology. Moreover, private hospitals exceed 60% of the total number of hospitals in Jordan.

Jordan was awarded as the “Best Medical Tourism Destination” as it boasts significant expertise in a variety of medical specialties such as oncology, cardiac surgery, acute care, orthopedic, cosmetic surgery, psychiatry to name a few.

KEY CHALLENGES IN HEALTHCARE ON THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the suspension of work in the private hospital sector and its limitation to receiving emergency cases due to the curfew imposed in the country for more than two months, in addition to the complete cessation of medical tourism as a result of the suspension of air traffic and the closure of border crossings. All those factors threatened the survival of some of the private hospitals.
  • The unstable political situation and the change in governments in the neighboring countries decrease the number of patients coming to Jordan for treatment.
  • Jordan is a safe haven for all the neighboring countries, the population has increased rapidly in the last few years due to the Syrian refugees and other nationalities who settled in Jordan. This has increased the burden on the healthcare system.
  • Closing down opportunities for Jordanian doctors to obtain higher specialization in Western countries.

 

KEY PERSPECTIVES IN HEALTHCARE AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

Over the years, Jordan has emerged as one of the most desirable destinations in the region for medical tourism, and it is rapidly developing an international reputation for high quality and affordable healthcare.

With around 250,000 patients visiting Jordan annually for treatment from around the world, and over one billion US dollars in revenue annually. Jordanian hospitals invested heavily in modern technology, with the latest MRI, CT-Scan, nuclear imaging and IVF.

EVOLUTION OF THE IHF IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS

The IHF will strengthen its position globally with new members joining. It will continue in supporting and improving the industry by taking into consideration the healthcare industry evolvement by; the increase in the use of artificial intelligence, big data, the internet of things, and robotics. In addition, patients are becoming more aware and demanding due to the availability of information through the wide use of the internet and social media channels and so the IHF should strengthen its online presence.

EXPECTATIONS FROM AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE IHF

Jordan has become a member of the IHF through the full membership of The Private Hospitals Association in cooperation with the Health Care Accreditation Council (HCAC) and in coordination with all healthcare sectors in Jordan, including private, government, military and university hospitals.

IHF members will benefit from each other through knowledge and experience exchange, also through training opportunities provided by IHF. PHA will benefit from the main activities of the federation and its contribution to improving health around the world, improving the performance of healthcare institutions by supporting initiatives to improve their responsiveness, efficiency, effectiveness, equitable accessibility and quality of care and the development of effective health care management.

PHA will be able to cooperate and exchange ideas, experiences and information with the global community of healthcare organizations and management professionals to know where they succeeded and where they failed and to contribute to shaping the future of healthcare in the world.

JORDAN AS A HEALTHCARE CENTER OF EXCELLENCE IN THE MENA REGION

Positioned as a gateway to the Middle East, Jordan is one of the world’s most desirable locations for investment in health and wellness. One of Jordan’s primary assets in the medical services sector is its workforce, as the country boasts over 28,000 physicians most of whom are board-certified in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada or other European countries and a growing team of nurses that are experienced in state-of-the-art patient care.

Another asset in the Jordanian health and wellness sector is its competitive cost structure, which offers medical services at a low-risk platform to serve the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) market.

The healthcare system is well prepared for emergencies that were noticeable during the Arab Spring; since Jordan treated more than 150,000 wounded and sick patients from a number of neighboring Arab countries in a record period, and no infectious disease spread among these patients although they came from the infected population because of wars in their countries.

Jordan’s success is due to the importance it has placed on the development of quality healthcare as 9.3% of GDP is spent on healthcare. These expenditures include upgrading the medical facilities and equipment in addition to providing training opportunities for the healthcare providers which is reflected positively on the medical services provided for Jordanian and non-Jordanian patients.

Jordan boasts significant expertise in a variety of medical specialties such as oncology, pediatrics, cardiac surgery, acute care, orthopedic, cosmetic surgery, psychiatry and drug addiction to name a few. In terms of specialty surgical procedures and care, Jordan has a long and impressive history of success. The following outlines the milestones in the country’s medical achievements:

  • First Open-Heart Surgery (1970)
  • First Kidney Transplant (1972)
  • First Laparoscopic Surgery (1973)
  • First Heart Transplant (1985)
  • First Stem Cell Transplant (1985)
  • First-born IVF baby (1987)
  • First Bone Marrow Transplant (1987)
  • First Cochlear Transplant (1998)
  • First Liver Transplant (2004)

 

Over the years Jordan has emerged as one of the most desirable locations in the region for medical tourism, and it is rapidly developing an international reputation for high quality and affordable health care. And now there are (10) Joint Commission International (JCI) and (31) Healthcare Accreditation Council (HCAC) accredited hospitals which ensure international standards in care and customer service, along with an affordable cost structure, make “Turning to Jordan” for quality, care a natural choice. From the perspective of cost, Jordan’s costs of treatment are very competitive on the international level.

JORDAN’S SUCCESS STORY IN CONTROLLING COVID-19 AS WELL AS TRAINING STRATEGIES

Stemming from the vast successes that have accomplished during the past years, PHA supported the Government of Jordan in its efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March 2020, the Government of Jordan took a series of quick actions to stop the spread of COVID-19, including shutting down and directing citizens to stay home and practice social distancing. As a result, the government successfully managed to control and limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the help and support from private hospitals, by the volunteers sent from the private sector to support the MOH medical staff. In addition to sending doctors and nurses volunteering to work with the Civil Defense Directorate.

PHA offered all the capabilities of private hospitals at the disposal of the MOH. The PHA chairman, Dr. Fawzi Al-Hammouri was appointed as a Member of the National Epidemiology Committee, and Member of the Economic Policy Advisory Council.  In addition, private hospitals also offered ventilators to MOH hospitals for COVID-19 Cases.

PHA is always activating the role of the private health sector to prepare and designate referral facilities for case management and identify alternative facilities providing COVID-19 treatment for surge response as well as working on training projects that aim to train health care providers (HCPs) in the private sector across Jordan to combat and manage the rise of the COVID19 Cases in the country including private hospitals in its network from the governorates outside Amman among specific targeted training sessions as well as developing COVID 19 Response Action Plans so that population areas inside & outside Amman are served with well-trained HCPs ready to follow clinical case management guidelines and protocols adopted by the MOH.

PHA formed a committee of infection control professionals to coordinate their efforts with the MOH and the Directorate of Communicable Diseases.

In the meetings of the Economic Policy Advisory Council chaired by the Prime Minister, the Chairman of the PHA made a proposal, to open the medical tourism to Jordan. And in July 2020 the protocol for medical tourism was approved which included a dedicated electronic platform for medical tourism that was launched to facilitate patients’ arrival, visa issuing, transportation, flight ticketing, hotel accommodation and communicating with hospitals while maintaining the highest standards of public health and safety to ensure the epidemiological situation in Jordan remains stable.

 


About the Private Hospitals Association – Jordan

The Private Hospitals Association mission is to contribute to improving the health of the community and individuals through supporting members to provide safe healthcare services that are globally accredited.  The main objectives that PHA is focused on are the following;

  • Enhance the quality and safety of hospitals’ services provided to patients.
  • Improve the financial efficiency of member hospitals.
  • Improve the services provided by the association to the members through improving the financial resources and by increasing the number of staff.
  • Contribute in the preparation of regulations and policies to be more adequate to the needs of the PHA Members.
  • Increase the hospitals’ and medical centers’ capabilities to become competitive internationally.
  • Improve the role of the PHA and its members in serving the community.

In 2014 Jordan represented by the association won the Best Medical Tourism Destination Award, which was awarded by the International Medical Travel Journal. The award is granted to the medical tourism destination with unparalleled quantities of medical services to patients from outside Jordan.

Dr. Al-Hammouri was the president of the Global Healthcare Travel Council (GHTC) from 2015 until 2017, during his presidency he shared with them Jordan’s success story in becoming a medical tourism destination. He is one of the founding members and he is now the honorary president of GHTC. The Global Healthcare Travel Council consists of 42 member countries that are all health travel destinations.

During his presidency term, in the Global Healthcare Travel Forum, Dr. Al-Hammouri announced Amman Declaration which aims to expand healthcare travel globally in 8 segments which are; medical tourism, dental tourism, spa tourism, wellness tourism, culinary tourism, sports tourism, assisted residential tourism and accessible tourism.

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