It’s been a tough year for executives across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia — especially for those in the healthcare sector.

“To be completely honest, throughout the past six months most decisions have been exceptionally challenging,” said Dr. Ahmed Ezzeldin Mahmoud Abdelaal, chief executive of Cleopatra Hospitals Group, which operates six hospitals in the Cairo area in Egypt. In May, Dr. Ezzeldin was at the helm when the group converted two of its facilities into Covid-19 treatment and isolation centers.

“The transition had to take place in a very short time frame and there was no room for error,” said Dr. Ezzeldin, who has been voted the No. 2 healthcare CEO in Institutional Investor’s 2020 Emerging EMEA Executive Team.

First place in the healthcare sector went to MLP Care chief executive Muharrem Usta, who leads Turkey’s largest healthcare provider. Usta said the safety of his staff was a top priority at MLP, which has 30 hospitals in 16 Turkish cities and has been involved in the treatment and diagnosis of patients with Covid-19, as well as public health messaging.

Both chief executives say the coronavirus has accelerated their companies’ digital transformations. Under the leadership of Dr. Ezzeldin, Cleopatra Hospitals has introduced new technologies to enhance back office and patient services. Patients can now take part in digital consultations using a proprietary app, as well as book home visits and diagnostic services – all without stepping foot in a clinic.

The digital transformation was already well underway in MLP hospitals when coronavirus hit, according to Usta. But the pandemic has expedited the testing of new services, especially remote access for patients who cannot go out due to lockdown. Now, MLP is looking forward to a new era of artificial intelligence in healthcare and aiming to launch a new AI center that, Usta said, will “take our clinical skills to a higher level.”

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