GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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The Qatar Academic Health System Partnership
Paper Proposal Text :
The Qatar Academic Health System Partnership
Edward Hillhouse*, Sadaf Lynes, Kristen Mrus, and Hanan Al Kuwari
Hamad Medical Corporation and *Weill Cornell Medical College, Doha, Qatar
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), as the principal healthcare provider in Qatar, has embarked on a challenging journey of transformation, with the goal of turning its hospitals into true Academic Health Centers. It is doing this by linking together health, education and research, powered by the synergies between itself and its academic partners. 

This highly ambitious partnership is carried out in close collaboration with Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) and other academic partners in Qatar and internationally.

This journey of transformation includes the forging of meaningful relationships with partners across a wide range of health and allied health-related domains. Our current national partners include Qatar University, the University of Calgary – Qatar, College of the North Atlantic – Qatar, Sidra Medical and Research Center, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute and Primary Health Care. 

International partners include Harvard University, Imperial College, UCL, Duke University, Toronto University, Cleveland Clinic and Heidelberg University. Launched in August 20111, the Academic Health System (AHS) has already generated significant positive impact upon patient care, medical education and biomedical research. The strength of the AHS results from the intertwining of these central activities to improve health and wellbeing whilst expanding the boundaries of knowledge and ensuring a modern, flexible and sustainable workforce. The initiative represents a major milestone in HMC’s development as Qatar’s leading healthcare provider through the delivery of world-class health care, medical education and research excellence. A key element of the initiative is wider community engagement through developing a deeper social conscience and bestowing tangible economic and health benefits on the community through education and research. Our partnership recognizes that the patient and the community plays a central role in good clinical research.
We have made tremendous progress in laying the foundations and planning for success. In doing this we have engaged strategic and operational leaders internally and externally, particularly through our international advisory board. We have been encouraged by the partners’ determination to innovate within a partnership framework that is in alignment to the Academic Health System (AHS) vision. The partnership has facilitated many new inter-professional education and research programs through our AHS sub-committee structure.
A core part of the AHS model is the development of inter-professional Institutes, an example of which is the Institute of Neuroscience. The latter is the main hub of clinical, educational, investigational and research activity in neurological disorders and is focused on the patient. This Institute model is being delivered through partnerships with world-class organizations as well as the development of home grown talent.
Underpinning the model are the following principles;

• Patients receive care informed by the latest research evidence using the newest treatment, tools and diagnosis
• Patients have access and the opportunity to participate in research into new and innovative treatments
• A culture where healthcare professions are trained and work within inter-professional and multidisciplinary teams, delivering and improving a clinical service that addresses local and global health needs
• Clinical and translational research that supports a better understanding of our patients’ health problems
• Information systems and health informatics that promote evidence based practice and support our educational and research activities
• Bridge the gap between knowledge creation through research and innovation and knowledge application, which will enhance and change clinical care.
• Community engagement to increase patient participation in clinical research and create a shift from a culture of treatment to one of prevention and awareness.

Our focus is now shifting to engage regional partners and in 2013 we hosted the 1st regional meeting of the Association of Academic Health Centers International2 (AAHCI) with widespread attendance from key scientific and clinical leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa. The key challenges identified were: educating a skilled and flexible workforce able to adapt to the rapidly changing health-care environment; building capacity and capability through recruitment, retention, education, and partnership; locally relevant research supported by international partnerships; and driving improved clinical performance through a focus on quality and safety3. We are taking this initiative forward by exploring a regional office of the AAHCI based in Doha. If this goes ahead it will provide a link between the regional centers and also our international partners.

1) Hillhouse E, Al Kuwari H, Sheikh J. Establishment of a model academic health system in Qatar. Lancet. 2012 Feb 25;379(9817):694-5.
2) Wartman SA, Hillhouse EW, Gunning-Schepers L, Wong JE. An International Association of Academic Health Centers. Lancet. 2009 Oct 24;374(9699):1402-3.
3) Hillhouse, E., Wartman, S. Improving healthcare in the Middle East and North Africa. Lancet. 2014 Jan 11;383(9912):126.