Facility mock-ups, family advisory group and pilot lifestyle medicine program enable patients to play an integral part in the development of the cancer care model

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: As Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health, prepares to open its 19,000 square meter purpose-built cancer center next year, patients are being consulted to refine the services that will be offered, and provide feedback on tailored care.

The hospital is on schedule with the construction of the ten-floor cancer facility, modelled on Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Center in the US, which is set to bring an integrated and transformative approach to diagnosing and treating the disease to the region. The center will have 24 exam rooms, 24 infusion rooms, two procedure rooms, and an area devoted to specialty women’s oncology services.

“For a long time in healthcare, we have been designing services with the consultation of physicians, without involving the patient in the decision-making process. When the Taussig Cancer Center was being built, Cleveland Clinic decided to engage actual patients and create programs and systems around their needs. We are applying the same lessons in the building of our cancer center in Abu Dhabi, with the recognition that every community has geographical and cultural differences and patients should have a say in how they want to be supported,” says Dr. Stephen R. Grobmyer, Chair of the Oncology Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

“We have regular focused group discussions with our patients and their families about their experience at the hospital and survey them to continually assess the quality and access to cancer care and develop the next set of services to better support patients here.”

Adopting a patient- and family-centered approach to care, the oncology institute has established a Patient and Family Advisory Council, a specific group of cancer patients, survivors or their families, to receive direct and ongoing feedback on how to enhance cancer treatments and care. Discussions include how to design patient care areas, floor plan layouts, workflows and even the development of initiatives and patient-related wellness programs.

In addition to that, examination and infusion room mockups have been created in the main hospital to enable cancer patients to experience the services that will be offered at the center and help design the delivery of care. The hospital is also running a pilot lifestyle medicine program for breast cancer patients based on a survey that showed their interest in a holistic approach to their wellbeing before, during and after cancer treatments.

“The aim is to design the support services and the care journey at the new cancer center with the active participation of the patients and their families. We are eager to gather the knowledge and invaluable insights that they and the hospital’s caregivers will share to create a warm and healing environment for everyone,” says Dr. Grobmyer.

Dr. Nicole Sirotin, the Chair of Preventive Medicine in the Medical Subspecialties Institute, says the cancer center will have a Center for Healthier Living, which is currently being piloted with a group of breast cancer patients. This will be the first evidence-based Lifestyle Medicine program to be completely integrated with traditional cancer care in the region.

“In a patient survey that we conducted earlier this year, we found that more than 71 percent were interested in fitness and nutrition-related support and 80 percent said they would like sleep counseling,” Dr. Sirotin says.

“Data also shows that with dedicated exercise and adopting a Mediterranean diet, we can reduce the risk of recurrence of the disease by 45 percent, particularly in patients with breast and colon cancer. A lot of this research, as well as our patients’ suggestions, is informing how we are moving forward with our cancer care.”

The pilot program aims to provide nutritional, exercise and psychological support to ensure the patients’ mental and physical wellbeing before and after the various cancer treatments. After that, they will be put on a team-based lifestyle medicine program that includes consultations and follow ups with a dietician, sports and exercise physiologist, and a behavioral and mental health expert to reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer and other metabolic diseases.

Dr. Sirotin says that the initial results of the pilot program are very promising. The multidisciplinary team has helped one patient quit smoking, while supporting another to lose about 4kgs in the last three months.

“We have definitely seen a change in mindsets towards diet and exercise in all patients who participated. They have been extremely grateful for a program that is dedicated to improving their health and longevity. We want to give more patients the tools that empower them to take positive steps and feel positive about being able to lead a cancer-free life.”

Dr. Grobmyer concludes that the multiple feedback channels have allowed them to consider different perspectives and specific needs of the community.

“Privacy and convenience are two aspects that we can enhance to suit the needs of the patients in the region through this approach. Instead of them having to go to the service, we want to bring coordinated care led by a team of international experts to them.”

About Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi:

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health, is a multispecialty hospital on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a unique and unparalleled extension of US-based Cleveland Clinic’s model of care, specifically designed to address a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the Abu Dhabi population.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has the following Institutes: Heart & Vascular, Neurological, Digestive Disease, Eye, Respiratory, Critical Care, Surgical Subspecialties, Medical Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Imaging, Quality & Patient Safety, and Clinical & Nursing. In all, more than 40 medical and surgical specialties are represented at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

The facilities at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi combine state-of-the-art amenities and world-class service standards. The hospital is a 394 (expandable to 490) bed facility, with five clinical floors, three diagnostic and treatment levels, and 13 floors of critical and acute inpatient units. It is a physician-led medical facility served by North American/European Board Certified (or equivalent) physicians. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides patients in the region direct access to the world’s best healthcare providers and Cleveland Clinic’s unique model of care, reducing their need to travel abroad for treatment.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – Al Ain began offering select medical services in December 2017. The facility is located on the Tawam Hospital Campus in Al Ain.

About Mubadala Health:

Mubadala Health is the integrated healthcare network of Mubadala Investment Company. Established in 2021, Mubadala Health operates, manages, and develops a portfolio of healthcare assets including: Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Healthpoint, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), Amana Healthcare, National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Capital Health Screening Centre (CHSC), Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre (ADTC), Danat Al Emarat, HealthPlus Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, HealthPlus Family Clinics, HealthPlus Fertility, HealthPlus Women’s Health Center, Moorfields Eye Hospital Abu Dhabi, and a stake in Al Meswak Dental Clinics Group. With a vision to transform the regional healthcare landscape, Mubadala Health sets a new benchmark for the UAE and regional healthcare industry through its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class caregivers who strive to put patients first across its continuum of care. Innovation, research, and education are the foundational pillars of Mubadala Health, supporting the further development of a sustainable healthcare sector in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi and the region.