The future of healthcare

20 AUG 2019

Globally and in the region, the healthcare sector is being transformed by a number of dynamic trends, including digitalization, personalization and internationalization. It’s truly one of the most exciting times to be a caregiver, as new technologies enable us to offer care to more patients wherever they are and whenever they need it. 

It is important to understand, however, that the full benefit of these innovations can only be delivered by focusing on the human factors that underwrite them, and – like all industries – that healthcare has a responsibility to deploy new technologies in a sustainable manner. 

Transforming Healthcare Delivery through Digitalization 

Digital platforms will play a much greater role in the future, supporting the work of primary care physicians and family practices. In terms of speed of response, telemedicine is already helping patients in Abu Dhabi, ensuring they are able to consult experienced physicians from home, and book appointments as required. 

These platforms are being supported by online systems that aggregate and analyze medical data earlier and more effectively. A great example of this is the online IT system we deploy at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to help detect heart problems. The system collects data from pacemakers and other implantable cardiac devices from anywhere in the UAE and sends alerts to doctors when it detects that patients could be experiencing rhythmic disturbances of the heart. The data is aggregated to track patterns over time and accessed by doctors using their mobile devices.

When combined with new technologies, such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the possibilities are almost limitless.  AI is already being used to detect diseases, like cancer, more accurately and at earlier stages. For example, the use of AI in the review of mammograms is delivering results 30 times faster and with 99% accuracy, reducing the need for unnecessary biopsies, according to the American Cancer Society. If applied to reviewing data from consumer wearables, AI could provide a vital overview of population health, enabling doctors to address community health issues at an earlier, more treatable stage. 

Even in the field of surgery, new technologies are having a transformational impact. Robotics enable surgeons to enter any part of the body through tiny incisions, reducing the invasiveness of the surgery and subsequently the recovery time that patients need. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is at the forefront of robotic surgery, particularly in cardiac care. The most exciting potential future application of robotic surgery would be the opportunity to perform operations at a distance. Patients could receive the support of a world-class surgeon in a different hospital or even a different country.

Applying a ‘Team of Teams’ Approach 

Delivering the full benefits of these new innovations will require healthcare organizations to rethink their traditional methods of organization. Healthcare is traditionally siloed into departments, which creates limiting barriers for the potential to share knowledge and collaborate. We need to move towards a model where care is delivered through the coordinated efforts of diverse professionals with complementary qualifications, enabled by technology.

This is the most important differentiator for Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, where our model of care is organized around a ‘team of teams’ approach. Every patient who comes to the hospital is cared for by a team of providers, enabling us to address the most complex issues.

Building Sustainability into an Innovation Strategy 

As a leader in the healthcare industry, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi understands that climate change is a risk to the health of our communities, as well as to our organization. As a result, sustainability has to be at the heart of every innovation strategy. This means that it is essential for any new initiatives to be assessed from an environmental, social and economic impact perspective – as well as for the potential health benefits. 

Of course, new technologies also enable us to manage our environmental impact. At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, we deploy a greenhouse gas tool to quantify and exhaustively log the exact amounts of greenhouse gas emissions the hospital produces, as part of the effort to reduce carbon emissions. We have also started a food waste dehydration program that converts food waste into an organic byproduct, which is used to produce compost for the hospital’s landscapes and gardens.

By coupling new models of care with new technologies, healthcare organizations will be able to offer greater personalization in treatment plans and delivery. In addition, they will be able to tap into an international network of experts, ensuring that patient cases are reviewed by leading specialists in their field, no matter where they are in the world.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is already deploying an integrated, international healthcare network to ensure that our patients have access to 57,000 of the most sophisticated and connected medical minds in the world. Working together, we believe the healthcare industry of the future will be able to tackle even the most challenging issues of our time. 

By Dr. Rakesh Suri / CEO, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi


15 JAN 2020

The decade of energy transformation lies ahead of us

As we enter a new decade, IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera suggests the 2020s will be the golden age of renewables 

The 2010s will be remembered as the decade when renewable energy went from the marginal to the mainstream. Cost reductions and the growing climate crisis have propelled renewable energy sources into the social and political discourse in almost every country on earth. Of all the major power generation technologies – traditional or renewable – solar accounts for the largest share of additional capacity over the last 10 years. 

Encouraging as this progress might be, the hard work is ahead of us. Our actions in the 2020s will define the long-term future of our economies, our people and our planet. Any chance we have of mitigating the climate crisis and achieiving sustainable development by mid-century, lies in the policies, investments and emission reductions made this decade. And this critical period of action begins in Abu Dhabi at the 10th IRENA Assembly during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. 

The 2020s are set to be the decade that redefines our socioeconomic system. If successful, we will have unleashed 10 breathtaking years of energy system transformation putting us well on the way to generating nearly nine tenths of electricity from renewables by 2050. The hard work starts now to ensure that by the end of this decade renewables contribute half of all power generation globally. 

It could also be the decade in which demand for both coal and oil peaks, where we see 157 million electric vehicles on our roads, and when the last person on earth without reliable and affordable access to electricity is enjoying the benefits of its productive uses. It’s possible. To ensure this happens, however, we must urgently address two key things. Investment and policy. 

Planned energy investments are currently misdirected and should pivot to low-carbon technologies. By our calculations more than USD 18 trillion of energy investments by 2050 are fossil fuel related, including exploration and production of gas, oil and coal. At best, these investments risk stranding trillions of dollars of assets in uneconomical fuels in just a few years. At worst, they threaten to blow the world’s carbon budget this decade, and with it any hope of a climate safe future. 

To hold rising temperatures in the 10 years ahead of us, annual investments in renewable energy must rise from today’s USD 330 billion to nearly USD 750 billion per year. Redirecting capital into more socially and economically beneficial low-carbon technologies, is imperative and must start now. It is also the most economic climate action pathway. Inaction will cost up to 7 times more than the capital needed to transform the energy system.

The Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries are taking up the renewable energy race and have everything to gain from moving quickly into a leadership position on future energy. Conservative estimates suggest that by 2030 the region could save more than 350 million barrels of oil equivalent and create close to a quarter of a million new jobs by executing current plans. Solar and wind resources are rich and attractive, and policies have made it cheaper to generate power from renewables than from any other source. Moving from oil, gas pipelines and coal shipments to solar panels and wind turbines strengthens energy security, supports energy independence and builds prosperity for all, not just for the few. 

There is no question we are moving in the right direction. In the last decade renewable power generation capacity has doubled and its growth has consistently outpaced fossil fuels since 2012. A third of global power generation capacity today is renewable. This is the result of investments of around USD 3 trillion over the last 10 years including large hydro. In the decade of transformation ahead of us however, the next three trillion dollars of renewable investments should take around four years. 

Policies must align with the opportunity and reflect the necessity. Under current policies, the peak production of fossil fuels happens somewhere between 2030 and 2035, dramatically out of step with the Paris Agreement which requires a peak in 2020 and a steady, continuous decline from that point. Furthermore, renewable energy targets in nationally determined contributions (NDCs) lag market progress. By 2030 NDCs should target double the amount of renewable capacity, they do today.  

It is no longer a question of direction, but of speed. With policy support, smart investment decision-making and clear recognition of the benefits associated with a renewables-based energy system, the speed of transformation ahead of us could rival the that of any in the post-industrial age. Anything short of this, risks everything.   


25 SEP 2019

The growing role of space in a sustainable future

Sustainability has always been a fundamental motivation behind our mission to explore life and resources beyond our planet.

The consequences of the environmental challenges Earth is facing are becoming more severe as time goes by. The impact of climate change is already evident in the UAE, the region and in most countries worldwide. As such, contributing to a sustainable future is now more critical than ever both within our country and globally.

The space sector plays a vital role in providing global solutions for the environmental threats facing our planet. These threats include climate change, resource scarcity, desertification, rising sea levels, and an increased frequency and severity of national disasters.

We are already putting space technology to work for the benefit of humanity by forming partnerships to foster innovative technologies, launching satellites to monitor and measure the impact of climate change, and establishing research centres dedicated to advanced sciences.

Today, the accumulated knowledge of more than 50 years of observation provides us with a better understanding of Earth, with improved knowledge of its various components including its atmosphere, land, oceans and ice coverage.[1]

A study conducted by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) suggests that Earth observation data has a role to play in relation to most of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).[2] The United Nations announced 169 targets associated with these goals, 65 of which directly benefit from the use of Earth observation and navigation satellite systems.[3]

Space technologies can be utilised to pinpoint structures for urban planning purposes, apply global navigation satellite systems, Earth observation and satellite telecommunications, improve city services like the smart waste management systems, monitor air quality, manage disasters, monitor infrastructure, and help in search and rescue operations.

20 AUG 2019

The growing role of space in a sustainable future

Q@&A: We sit down with Manjula Ramakrishnan, the President of SmartLife Foundation, to learn more about the Dubai-based NGO and its humanitarian activities to help low-income workers and their families

Can you tell us more about the SmartLife Foundation?

Licensed by the Community Development Authority in Dubai, the SmartLife Foundation is an NGO that works closely with blue-collar workers living in labor camps to help them improve their potential and quality of their lives by offering them a diverse range of programs.

In our 10 years of operations in Dubai – and still counting – our core philosophy is to devise projects by not sitting in the comfort of our corporate meeting rooms, but by being in their midst – in their labor accommodations – to learn about their requirements and to devise relevant programs that will help them.
What issues did you identify as the most urgent for the blue-collar workers?

We discovered that financial and old-age planning were not a priority for many blue-collar workers, even after working for 20 or more years in the Gulf. To help the workers with planning for their retirement, we started our SmartElder program to help steer them towards a healthy and robust retirement. Our volunteers guide the workers on a range of topics, such as how to deal with old-age problems and manage their finances when they return home.

What initiatives do you have to help women?

When we learnt that there were very few women-centric projects for blue-collar ladies in the UAE, we launched SmartWoman. Here, women can learn new hobbies, discover their creativity and engage with others in a relaxing atmosphere. The idea behind this project is to enable women to use their spare time creatively and productively, thus keeping negative thoughts, if any, at bay.

Do you have a youth program? 

Yes, we do. Our SmartBuddy project uses a “buddy” system to encourage students to inspire and motivate each other. The program pairs a “Dubai buddy” with a “native buddy” (students in their own countries). The students are paired together based on the same gender, language and age group.  The buddies are supervised by our adult SmartLife volunteers who act as mentors. 

What other programs do you offer?

One of our flagship projects is the SmartReading program, which is in line with the reading initiative of the Dubai government and helps semi-literate workers to enjoy the pleasures of reading. Our SmartReading program also aligns with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #4, which focuses on offering inclusive and quality education, and promoting lifelong opportunities for all. The initiative helps to build confidence with English communication and reading skills, and about 1,500 blue-collar workers have so far “graduated” from the program and now feel confident when interacting in basic, simple English.

We have a dozen active projects, including SmartIdol, which is a fun platform for the blue-collar workforce to showcase their talents in singing, dancing and playing musical instruments. We help to train them and hone their skills in the best academy in Dubai and then give them a stage to perform to a larger audience. Other projects include SmartMedic, which offers periodic health check-ups and addresses wellness in workers.  This is in alignment with SDG Goal #3, which ensures good health and well-being for people of all ages. SmartCup is a cricket tournament where blue and white-collar workers are part of the same team vying for the coveted trophy. SmartFitness helps workers to stay fit in fun ways with zumba dancing, skipping and running, while SmartRelaxation deals with anger management, de-stressing and breathing techniques coupled with light yoga and meditation.

Where do you get your inspiration for the projects?

We work in conjunction with the Federal Government’s initiatives. A case in point is SmartReading. This started in 2016 as part of the Year of Reading; when The Year of Zayed was announced in 2018, we worked on promoting the core philosophies of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE. This year, 2019, is the Year of Tolerance, and we are delighted to confirm that each and every project of SmartLife is about inclusiveness, having the maximum number of nationalities on board – both as beneficiaries and as volunteers.

What does the future hold for SmartLife Foundation?

Not an NGO to rest on our past laurels, we are in the process of initiating a social impact audit to gauge where further improvement and value add-on can be brought in. The journey therefore continues, for service to humanity knows no finish line. SmartLife functions with a sizeable pool of volunteers who are united in their mission to give back to society and to derive immeasurable joy from the very act of giving.

By Manjula Ramakrishnan / President of SmartLife Foundation