What are the major updates since we last met in early 2018?
We are working toward to Vision 2030. We are trying to keep up with digital learning, computer-based exams, and virtual classrooms. We now have a master's program in clinical pharmacy, approved by the Ministry of Education.
Looking at tertiary care, how can Saudi nationals be encouraged to undergo surgery and specialized medical services in Saudi Arabia rather than traveling abroad?
Tertiary care is an expensive service. From the private sector point of view, you can provide the service only if there are paying customers, which means that developing tertiary care will not be an easy process by the private sector. The government sector has tertiary care, but it will be complex for the public and private sector to build both the required infrastructure and attract the customer base.
Do you think medical insurance implementation would strike a balance between profitability and wider access to care?
Insurance, which is still a new concept for Saudis, will make the patient suffer. Unfortunately, the patient will be looked at primarily as a customer rather than an individual who needs healthcare. Profit motive will override the sector's focus on care, as has happened in many countries. Cost will become the dominant consideration in medical care. There is the potential, too, for people to go bankrupt due to medical expenses that they cannot afford. For this reason, insurance privatization can have unintended negative consequences for people, as insurance companies want to make a profit with the bare minimum of services. Insurance companies will deny coverage whenever they can. The patient, at the end of the day, will be a number. The people who have money will get treatment and the people who do not will only get a minimum level of care.