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Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Business of Health in Abu Dhabi

The Business of Health in Abu Dhabi

Imagine you've got a reasonably successful healthcare institution, and you're approached by one of your patients, a foreign national of some financial and political means, with the idea that you open a new hospital in his country, 7,000 miles away. How does one even begin to figure out how that will work? 

That's a rough a sketch of the Cleveland Clinic's Abu Dhabi story, the latest chapter of which involved the newest facility sporting the hometown name opening its doors to patients this year. We're going to hear a whole lot more about it next Wednesday. About a year ago, I ran into Marc Harrison, the CEO of the Abu Dhabi facility, and we got to talking about the unique challenges of delivering Cleveland-style care around the world, in another cultural context. 

Talking to him, I imagined that there must be no end to what he and his colleagues are learning about cross cultural communication, about the different needs of families, and about how pathologies manifest themselves in different populations. I also thought that perhaps there was a story here, thinking about the risks involved (it's a nice brand, and no one wants to damage it by promising a level of service they can't deliver), the mitigation of financial risk (the Clinic doesn't own the hospital--they're basically paid to manage it), the exporting of some of our top medical professionals (such as Harrison), and the surprises that emerge in any project that is as large and ambitious as this one. And I wondered if what they were learning was changing how they're doing healthcare back here at home.

What's clear is that there are two really interesting lenses to look at this--the healthcare lens and the business lens. I don't know much about healthcare, and I never went to business school, but from a business standpoint, there's a bit of get-big-or-get-out going on here, and the management of a truly complex health care system on a global scale is mind boggling. Clearly, too, this isn't a one-off. If Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a success, what will be next? And how would we define success in this instance? 

This is one of those great moments where because of some really smart work, a hometown brand is getting some global exposure, and it's a story we think is worth hearing and sharing. So we invited Harrison and his boss, Dr. Delos "Toby" Cosgrove to share it with us. I'll be moderating, and as usual, I've got a ton of questions--at least 30 minutes worth, anyway. I hope you'll join in and help out for the second half hour!

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