Dubai on Sunday launched the world’s first comprehensive electronic medical tourism portal, Dubai Health Experience, that promises to provide all health, travel, hospitality and visa services at the click of a button.

Medical packages will include procedures such as wellness, cosmetic and dental services, ophthalmology, orthopaedics and physiotherapy and specialised medical tests, to name few.

The initiative has a target of over 500,000 international medical tourists by 2020.

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, inaugurated the initiative at a ceremony on Sunday. The one-window portal will enable international medical tourists to log on to the website that will allow them to book medical procedure packages at any of the 26 private and public hospitals in Dubai along with special discounted Emirates airfares, visa, medical insurance to cover malpractice, hotel stay, leisure activities and marhaba service for smooth airport to hotel transfer. An android app version for the portal will be up and running within ten days, an official from the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) said.

The DHA will execute this initiative with strategic partners such as the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Emirates airline, among others.

Humaid Al Qutami, chairman of DHA’s Board of Directors and its director-general, said at the ceremony: “Dubai is at the pinaccle of safety, security, creativity and innovation and has over 200 nationalities living here. It has been a pioneer and leader in global development and by choosing to be a global hub of medical tourism it will redefine development on the map of this region.”

Dr Laila Al Marzouqi, head of DHA’s medical tourism initiative, said the time was ripe in every way. “Dubai has world-class medical facilities, it has security, happiness, aspiration and love and the leading carrier, Emirates, flies to over 140 countries. The time is prefect to launch this electronic portal that will connect the world with Dubai’s medical facilities.

Elaborating on the high response to the tourism initiative, Dr Al Marzouqi toldGulf News: “In 26 hospitals of Dubai we witnessed a traffic of 638,000 medical tourists, of whom nearly 47,000 were international tourists. This high traffic was recorded at just the 26 private and public hospitals and we are not even talking about the medical tourism procedures conducted in over 1,000 clinics and ambulatory care centres in Dubai. Every year the number goes up by 12 to 15 per cent.”

Given these figures, the DHA estimate of 500,000 international medical tourists is conservative and is likely to far exceed the target.

One of the most important features of the website is a detailed Patient Bill of Rights and Patient Protection Plan. The medical packages provide for medical insurance to cover any complication or medical liability. “We are adhering to international best practices and do not think there would be any malpractice, but this provision has been provided for the peace of mind of the patient. If there is a complication, then the individual will be allowed to return to UAE free of charge and revision of the surgery will be carried out free of charge. This insurance valid for a month after the procedure will cover the complication at no extra cost to the patient, “ Dr Al Marzouqi said.

Humaid Al Qutami welcomed Shaikh Hamdan and Shaikh Ahmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Civil Aviation and chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and Group, among other dignitaries at the event.

Health insurance will cover medical malpractice

The Dubai health experience will enable potential medical tourists to buy a medical malpractices insurance. Dr Al Marzouqi explained: “Patients may or may not have an interanational medical insurance to cover the cost of the procedure but apart from travel insurance buying a medical package will automatically enable them to have a medical malpractive insurance cover that will be valid for one month after the procedure. If the patient finds post operative complications he will be allowed to travel to Dubai and stay here free of charge and have a revision surgery or any other action to be taken, at no cost to him. The insurance will cover that cost.”