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Dubai Health Explores Virtual Reality to Reduce Pain and Anxiety in Medical Procedures
  08 May 2024
  5 mins for read

Dubai Health, the first integrated academic health system in Dubai, is embracing virtual reality (VR) technology to improve patient care across its hospitals and healthcare centers. This initiative kicks off with a study and implementation program at the Thalassemia Center, exploring the use of VR technology to reduce anxiety and pain during cannulation (needle insertion) procedures for thalassemia patients. This study, the first of its kind for this specific patient group in Dubai, holds promise for a more comfortable and positive healthcare experience.

Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), which leads the Learning and Discovery missions of Dubai Health, will conduct and document the study. Unlike prior studies that primarily relied on subjective experiences, this novel approach will incorporate objective measurements such as eye movement tracking and heart rate to assess the effectiveness of VR technology, marking a significant advancement in medical discovery.

Dr. Fatheya Abbas Al Khaja, Director of the Thalassemia Center, expressed her profound optimism for the initiative, stating, “The application of VR technology at the Thalassemia Center has the potential to transform the experience for patients undergoing cannulation procedures. Throughout my years at the Thalassemia Center, we have explored numerous modalities to alleviate the pain of our patients. This program epitomizes our Patient First promise to provide a more comfortable and anxiety-free experience, not just for the patients, but also for their families who witness this process. We are eagerly anticipating the results of this study.”

Separate from the MBRU study, the selected VR technology had been tested extensively. It demonstrated clinically effective results in 14 published and 30 ongoing studies, providing a solid foundation for its use in improving patient experiences.

This program marks the first phase of integrating VR technology across Dubai Health hospitals and healthcare centers, with plans to extend its application into medical procedures at Al Jalila Children's Hospital and Latifa Hospital. Beyond immediate application at the Thalassemia Center, the program also focuses on developing novel VR environments and experiences tailored to the local needs of patients in Dubai. The long-term vision is to develop future iterations of AI-powered VR technology to further personalize the patient experience, a collaborative effort engaging both MBRU students and our clinical staff.

“This program is the first of many to showcase how digital solutions can improve patient care within Dubai Health,” remarked Dr. Yacine Hadijat, Associate Professor of Innovation in Health Science and Digital Health at MBRU’s College of Medicine. “One of the inherent advantages of our integrated academic health system is the ability to cultivate a continuous cycle of improvement within our care, learning and discovery missions. By exploring digital innovations, such as VR technology, we are simultaneously training future healthcare professionals to champion patient-centered care and contribute toward the medical discovery of tech-enabled healthcare solutions. This multifaceted approach holds immense promise to transform the patient journey for countless individuals.”

By spearheading such initiatives, Dubai Health remains at the forefront of healthcare innovation, reaffirming its commitment to delivering patient-centered care and advancing the standard of medical excellence in the region.

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Dubai Health, the first integrated academic health system in Dubai, held an industry briefing session on Day 1 of the 49th Arab Health Exhibition and Congress, taking place this week at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

At the session, H.E. Dr. Amer Sharif, CEO of Dubai Health, presented a comprehensive overview of Dubai's first integrated academic health system model to over 150 industry thought leaders and officials from the UAE and abroad. Drawing parallels with globally renowned institutions adopting similar models, Dr. Amer shared exclusive insights on the work being undertaken by Dubai Health. Dubai aligns with leading academic health systems worldwide, enhancing patient outcomes and promoting accessibility and sustainability within its healthcare sector.

During the session, Dr. Amer highlighted Dubai Health’s commitment to enhancing health outcomes by building local talent and fostering research and innovation. He also shed light on working collaboratively by integrating knowledge, people, and capabilities to deliver patient-centric, evidence-based care that sets new benchmarks in healthcare excellence.

Dr. Amer Sharif said: “Through a unified commitment to patient-centered care, we are not just shaping the present healthcare landscape, but also laying the foundation for a transformative future anchored in our primary value of 'Patient First.’ This commitment extends beyond the present, as we strive to create a lasting impact on the lives and wellbeing of our community for generations to come.”

“Central to our goals are partnerships and collaborations that amplify our efforts and catalyze innovation. By cultivating strong alliances with stakeholders across the healthcare spectrum, we harness collective expertise and resources to address the present health challenges and drive meaningful change, ensuring that together we advance health for humanity.” H.E. Amer added.

Dubai Health was established to elevate the standard of care and to advance health for humanity. Dubai Health comprises six hospitals, 26 ambulatory health centers, 20 medical fitness centers, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Al Jalila Foundation through the integration of care, learning, discovery, and giving. Eleven thousand employees collaborate across multidisciplinary teams to put the patient first.

08 May 2024 News

Dubai Health, the first integrated academic health system in Dubai, has announced the opening of applications for its graduate training programs offered by the Graduate Medical Education (GME) at Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU).

The GME at MBRU offers an extensive range of training opportunities, including two internship programs, 20 residencies, and 15 fellowships spanning medical, dental, and surgical specialties. These programs have earned accreditation from key regional accreditation bodies, including the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, the UAE National Institute for Health Specialties, and the Arab Board of Health Specializations.

Professor Sulaiman Alemran, Dean of Graduate Medical Education, commented: “As Dubai’s first academic health system, through the integration of care, learning, discovery, and giving, we have a unique opportunity to create an engine for innovation, connected for the patient - delivered through a culture of collaboration. We believe that through instilling this transformative mindset and uniting as one, we can advance health to new heights of patient-centric excellence. Leveraging the integrated academic health system of Dubai Health, our trainees have the unique opportunity to directly engage with patients across 6 hospitals, 27 ambulatory health centers, and 20 medical fitness centers at with Dubai Health.”

Dr. Rasha Buhumaid, Vice Dean and Designated Institutional Official at Graduate Medical Education and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at MBRU said, "We offer 250 seats annually for enrollment in our graduate medical education programs. Our programs are designed to equip emerging healthcare professionals with well-rounded skills, ensuring their preparedness for the dynamic professional landscape. Trainees will benefit from experienced and dedicated faculty and clinical educators and partake in innovative research within their specialized field of interest, contributing to advancing medical knowledge. This approach aims to guarantee the quality of healthcare provided by future healthcare professionals, fostering a commitment to excellence and quality in their practice."

Registration for Graduate Medical Education (GME) at MBRU is currently open, with a deadline of March 22nd for residency programs. For internship and fellowship programs, the registration period extends until April 22nd.

To learn more and submit an application, please visit:

08 May 2024 News

A delegation from UMass Chan Medical School, Massachusetts’s first and only public academic health sciences center, recently visited Dubai Health, solidifying a new chapter in healthcare collaboration between the two organizations. The visit, marked by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), granted the delegation the opportunity to gain insight into Dubai’s first integrated academic health system, laying the groundwork for a productive partnership.

Inspired by UMass Chan’s reputation for impact through collaborative endeavour and aspiration to change the course of the history of disease, the partnership reflects a shared vision between the two academic health systems to advance health. Under the agreement, UMass Chan and Dubai Health will establish mutually beneficial research projects to improve patient care, create an exchange framework for learners between the two academic institutions, and drive transformative advancements for public health, both locally and globally.

Led by Michael F. Collins, MD, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Chancellor at UMass Chan, the visit also included an opportunity for Dubai Health learners to gain insight into elective and residency program opportunities at UMass Chan.

Commenting on the partnership, Professor Alawi Alsheikh-Ali, Deputy CEO and Chief Academic Officer of Dubai Health, and Provost of MBRU, stated, “This collaboration presents an exciting opportunity to combine the strengths of two academic health organizations. By pooling our resources, capabilities, and expertise, we are well-positioned to advance the frontier of medical knowledge that better serves our communities. The visit has been incredibly productive, laying the foundation for meaningful collaboration anchored in our shared purpose of advancing health for humanity.”

Michael F. Collins, MD, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Chancellor of UMass Chan commented “It is a privilege, along with a group of senior colleagues, to learn more about the breadth and depth of activity taking place at Dubai Health and to forge closer relationships with its leadership. The signing of an MOU between our respective institutions is an exciting development and provides UMass Chan and Dubai Health with a framework from which to pursue meaningful collaborations and exchanges, by partnering, we do hope to advance together on behalf of the communities that we serve.”

The UMass Chan delegation included Michael F. Collins, MD, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Chancellor; Terence R. Flotte, MD, Provost, Dean, and Executive Deputy Chancellor; David D. McManus, MD, Chair, Department of Medicine; Anne Larkin, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, Vice Provost, and Senior Associate Dean for Educational Affairs; Lisa Colombo, DNP, MHA, RN, Executive Vice Chancellor and CEO, ForHealth Consulting; Rebekah Diamond, JD, Executive Director, Business Strategy & Operational Excellence, ForHealth Consulting; Brendan Chisholm, Vice Chancellor of Management, Chief of Staff, Office of the Chancellor.

08 May 2024 News

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