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Breaking down the barriers to providing safe patient care

Patient Safety is the leading business platform connecting healthcare professions who are keen on improving patient care.

Now embarking on its 18th edition, Patient Safety has rapidly become the must-attend healthcare conference for medical professionals.

Leaders in the spotlight

Interview with Dr. Shanila Laiju

Dr. Shanila Laiju serves as Group Chief Executive Officer at Medcare Hospitals & Medical Centres in the UAE.  Dr. Shanila’s career started in 1994 when she made her foray into dentistry. From there, she soon progressed into hospital administration. Her journey gradually saw her evolve into a Clinic Supervisor, Operations Manager, Group Chief Operating Officer, and now – Group Chief Executive Officer. 

Backed by more than 18 years of success, Dr. Shanila has extensively contributed to the group’s internal culture by inspiring teams and boosting their performance through people-focused hospital administration.

She is also renowned for her hands-on approach to leadership, strategic decisions, and financial discipline. This approach has led to resilient employees, satisfied physicians, and resolute patient trust. 

Her expertise also brings great value to the medical community at large. She is an engaging communicator and relationship builder.  Dr. Shanila has spearheaded organizational planning, multimillion-dollar capital projects, contract negotiations, and team development while also increasing the brand’s visibility and growth. Making a tangible impact continues to be Dr. Shanila’s core goal. 

One of the countless ways she does this is by serving as a mentor in the Women Leadership program at Aster DM Healthcare.  She is also a member of the Aster DM Group’s Senior Management Committee, which she has been involved in for six years. During her time on the committee, Dr. Shanila has significantly contributed to the rapidly expanding healthcare sector in the UAE. One of her several career highlights includes carving out one of Medcare’s Centres of Excellence: the 65-bedded Medcare Orthopedics & Spine Hospital and the 88-bedded Medcare Women & Children Hospital. Part of what makes Dr. Shanila such an inspiring leader is her tireless commitment to sustainability - in all forms. 

Just a few of the various green initiatives she has led at Medcare include a mindful approach to electricity and water consumption, recycling, responsible e-waste management, and the launch of electronic medical records for patient convenience, data accuracy, and as a strategic move towards paperless operations. Dr. Shanila also facilitated a strategic partnership with Palestine Children’s  Relief  Fund (PCRF) to provide free, timely medical treatment to injured children in conflict-affected countries in the Middle East.

Tell us about your company’s products or solutions that enhance patient safety

At Medcare we make sure we have a prudent deployment of technology whether it is in the area of medical equipment or electronic medical record. Patient safety is the basic ingredient of all our processes and workflows. We encourage a culture of safety across the organisation and focus on safe care, while giving utmost importance to all dimensions of quality including sustainability.

Credentialling and clinical privileging process, purchase of only licensed and safe medical equipment and ethical patient transactions are among the processes we follow to enhance patient safety. We have scientific committees overseeing our medication, infection control, infrastructure safety and other safety programmes. We also encourage incident reporting and monitor quality indicators as well as clinical outcomes to oversee the safest care being delivered to all our patients.        

Patient Safety 2022 sees a return to the traditional in-person format. What are you looking forward to the most from in-person interactions at this year’s show?

With the impact of COVID-19 on social gatherings over the past few years, virtual conferences and meetings naturally became the norm to continue doing business. Advancements in technology have made it increasingly possible and affordable to be conducted online, including web-based meetings, training and conferences, all without the need of leaving the office. Although this practice has been a necessary alternative, the benefits of in-person conferences are far greater when done safely.

What we are looking for in this year’s conference is to showcase Medcare’s expertise and best practices in patient safety, being a leading healthcare provider. This is an opportunity for us to exchange knowledge and information with our peers, and provide our own expert opinion on topics such as infection control and prevention, staff health and safety, as well as improvements in patient experience among other topics. This platform will allow us to relate our personal experiences about how to deal with the types of challenges we faced with the wider health community.

Healthcare is a profession at the cutting edge of science. Practically, every single day some new innovation comes to the forefront, some new path-breaking study is published, or some new guideline is released. There is a constant need to update ourselves to accommodate the radical changes in our field — be it the advent of new technologies, changes in healthcare delivery, changing demographics and patterns of diseases. 

Most importantly, we believe that attending this conference should not be a one-way transfer of information. The most worthwhile discussions stem from questions and debates.

What will you be showcasing at Patient Safety this year?

This year, we want to start by expressing our gratitude to the professionals that continuously work toward effective and innovative strategies to improve healthcare safety. We are pleased to announce the introduction of the Medcare Aster DM Quality and Patient Safety Awards, which will be presented in five categories.

This event is aimed to showcase and exchange best practices across borders, which will also help raise awareness on vital patient safety topics. The awards are presented for the sole purpose of expressing appreciation and thanks to project teams that are committed to patient safety and quality. There is no cost associated with submitting a nomination, and all hospitals are encouraged to submit their initiatives through the website of the patient safety conference.

In addition, we have a specialised exhibit for Medcare, in which attendees may learn about the clinical programmes that we deploy in our Medcare facilities.

Nearly three years on from the start of the pandemic, how has patient safety changed?

The COVID-19 pandemic mandated modifications to the way in which health services are delivered across hospital emergency departments and inpatient units particularly related to patient workflows, reallocation of resources, and strains on the availability of device and protective gear. In addition, staff burnout was a critical concern.

The use of telehealth approaches has helped to provide access to health when patients could not visit the hospitals which is an area that healthcare providers are making good progress in as well. This can also help to limit the number of staff who require direct contact with a patient at any one time.

Strengthening infection prevention and control capacities are crucial to building stronger and broader infection control resources throughout healthcare that will not only improve our ability to protect patients in future pandemics but will also improve patient care every day.

In response to the unique challenges of the pandemic, particularly with regard to patient and disease management, governments, researchers, and professional healthcare organisations continue to work tirelessly to produce guidance to support personnel in preventing safety incidents.

At Medcare, ensuring the safety and resiliency of our organisation and workforce are preconditions to advancing patient safety. That is why we have worked on unified, systems-and-protocol-based approaches to eliminate harm to both patients and our teams.

Our healthcare staff members look continuously for ways to innovate in their approaches to patient safety across the continuum of care, and the leadership teams have been vital in providing the support and necessary resources.

Please tell us about your future plans

Our vision is to take Medcare Hospitals and Medical Centres to greater heights by keeping abreast of the top standards in preventive, curative and rehabilitative healthcare, regionally and internationally. We are always striving to improve the quality of life of our patients by increasing access to professional support and cutting-edge treatment, and the past few years were very exciting for us.

Anything else you would like to add?

I want to take this opportunity to invite the medical community to sign up for the Patient Safety Conference. The distinguished line-up of speakers will discuss a wide range of topics affecting healthcare, leading to meaningful and impactful conversations through thought-provoking lectures and collaborative dialogues.

Also, this conference provides opportunities for the delegates to exchange new ideas and application experiences face to face, establish business or research relations and find partners who are making valuable evolutions in the healthcare industry.