November 27, 2019

Mayo Clinic and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) on Sunday announced they will partner to open and operate a new multispecialty hospital in the United Arab Emirates—marking Mayo's latest and largest attempt at establishing an international brand. 

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Project details

The hospital, named Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, is slated to open in UAE capital Abu Dhabi in 2020, and will be Mayo's first full-fledged international hospital location. The 741-bed hospital will be one of UAE's largest hospitals for patients with serious and complex medical conditions, offering critical, outpatient, and surgical care, as well as labor and delivery services. Mayo and SEHA will hire 2,240 caregivers to work at the hospital, including more than 440 clinicians who were trained internationally.

Mayo, which will be a shareholder in the new for-profit venture, will invest revenue for education, research, and practice. Mayo did not disclose any other details on its shareholding or investment in the venture, Reuters reports.

Why Mayo is investing in its UAE presence

The venture marks Mayo Clinic's next attempt at building an international brand, according to Roshanak Didehban, Mayo Clinic's chair of practice administration.

Mayo partners with international clinics and providers on seven continents and has also long served international patients, including a large number of clients from the Middle East, at its Minnesota facility. The organization recently partnered with Oxford University Clinic to open a facility in London that provides tailored care options, such as health screenings for executives.

However, according to Didehban, establishing a regional center for complex conditions in UAE will help the system expand its presence in a country where it already serves a number of patients digitally and in the United States. "[W]e need to invest in a more physical presence in those parts of the world so that we can touch patients where they live," she said. "Our goal jointly is to move this facility over the next decade from what it is today to an international destination for complex and serious illness."

Didehban added that Mayo's decision to open a hospital in Abu Dhabi is unrelated to the organization's decision to scale back certain rural facilities in the United States—a decision Mayo said was driven by difficulty staffing those facilities and an insufficient number of patients.

Didehban said, "The changes that we make in the health system are (meant) to make sure that the volume of services and the staffing levels allow us to balance and provide the highest quality care possible within those communities." She added, "This announcement doesn't change our commitment to transform the Mayo Clinic health system to provide that expertise to the communities of Minnesota."

A growing trend

The venture also highlights a growing trend of health systems expanding in Abu Dhabi, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, Reuters reports. But despite its wealth, there is "a component of unmet need there," according to Didehban. "There are service lines that aren't available within the market, and patients locally travel outside of the region to get access to that care," she said.  

Other systems with ventures in Abu Dhabi include Cleveland Clinic, which partnered with the city to open a multispecialty clinic in Abu Dhabi in 2015. Mayo also previously opened a clinic in UAE in 2003.

"Investments like this are establishing Abu Dhabi as a global destination for health care, in line with the Department of Health's vision to bring the world’s standards in healthcare to Abu Dhabi," said Abdulla Bin Mohamed Al Hamed, chair of the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi (Reilly, Minneapolis/ St. Paul Business Journal, 11/25; Carvalho, Reuters, 11/24; Richert, MPR News, 11/24).

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