Interview with Mohammed Daoud, CEO, Unilabs

Pushing the envelope of innovation

When the world was struggling to attain reagents for COVID-19, Unilabs developed its own in collaboration with Khalifa University, which was manufactured locally in the UAE. In an interview, Mohammed Daoud, CEO, Unilabs, shared that the company also pushed the envelope for innovation by doing research on saliva testing for COVID-19 in collaboration with Mohammed Bin Rashed University (MBRU). He said: “By doing so we were successful in providing alternative and more comfortable ways to detect COVID-19 in patients of determination, children and the elderly.” Excerpts:

Could you tell us how Unilabs has responded to the COVID-19 crisis? 

Unilabs was on the forefront of the response with pre-emptive plans already in place to deal with global health emergencies. As for the UAE, to which we devote great interest in our network of laboratories and based on our well-established partnership with health authorities, we ensured to fulfil the needs of the local health authorities, first, before taking on any private clients for COVID-19 PCR testing.

The theme of Medlab Middle East this year is ‘United by business - Driving the industry forward’. How in your opinion can businesses continue to operate in the new normal? 

COVID-19 has been a challenge to businesses around the globe and has made the healthcare sector an industry with active involvement and impact on businesses of all types. Big challenges create great opportunities. We have been inspired by the UAE leadership and government, which support the private sector. Together, the healthcare ecosystem can unite and strive for a world where businesses and its people can continue their work safely and as fully as possible.

We believe that collaboration can identify how healthcare and safety needs can be met across industries, this is essential to driving services that are supportive and better meet the needs of different businesses

Unilabs believes that competition within the industry is very essential to foreseeing the future innovation and should be based on the value our clients and patients receive, not on our cost. When we compete on value, we focus on delivering superior results, whilst ultimately creating an efficiency by increasing quality and reducing wastage. It motivates us to remain innovative whilst creating a better experience for our staff, patients, clients and the environment at large.

What impact are technologies such as AI, machine learning, blockchain having on healthcare in your opinion? What are some of the growth areas in the industry?

We take great interest in incorporating artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies into our laboratories. AI and machine learning are enabling significant improvements in enhancing precision, minimizing cost and increasing capacity. Treatments and required diagnostics can be individually tailored to the needs of each patient, and their desired health outcomes.

Further to this, these advances allow for the monitoring of patients and predictive analytics that allow us to identify anomalies and disease progression earlier.

What this means for the patient is that they can enjoy wellness and health in a safer, more customised and convenient way. Their medicine can be given to them in the exact dose that their body needs, and not a generalized standard. A heart patient can be made aware if they are at risk of an eminent heart attack. Patients who previously required monitoring in a hospital setting can do so from the comfort of their home, surrounded by their families.

Blockchain will allow us to strike a balance between patient confidentiality and convenience, by ensuring that patient data shared digitally is done so whilst protecting patient related data.

What, according to you, are the opportunities available to healthcare and trade professionals who attend Medlab Middle East?

Medlab is the largest laboratory exhibition in the Middle East, and is an innovative platform for communicating with experts, specialists and innovators, in which companies showcase their most important innovations. In addition, the ability to network and establish new contacts as well as the platform for important conversations about innovation in the medical field.

Could you shed light on any plans or partnerships? 

We are launching an innovative health App allowing customers to have more interaction and control over their health and results. The app will not only allow customers to schedule and make an appointment for COVID-19 testing at Unilabs units and partnered facilities but also keep a record of any reports produced by Unilabs. This new process will enhance turn around time (TAT) by utilizing a check-in QRcode, avoiding unnecessary contact at a time where social distancing is key.

In line with our group mandate of accelerating into digitalization, we are expanding our teleradiology and digital pathology services to enable complete sub specialization for all reporting. Our goal is to bring the best in diagnostics from around the world to support innovation within our regions. This also expands to our Genetic testing for oncology, fertility and rare diseases and we will be expanding our partnerships for genetics in the region in the near future.

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