The Business Year

Nasser Al Huqbani

CEO, Sulieman Al Habib Medical Group

Since 1995, we as a group followed a clear five-year strategy, and our latest plan developed to be aligned with the 2030 Vision and the NTP’s healthcare sector key objectives. The private sector has an active role to play in achieving the objectives that have been set, and we are very much a part of this effort. We work very closely with the government and have a great deal of alignment and are heading in the same direction. The government has taken steps to make the role of both public and private healthcare providers more efficient and effective, and has put in place initiatives that serve as a major opportunity for Saudi Arabia to be at the forefront of healthcare globally. The sector has moved quickly to adapt to a new era and reality which is seeking to provide the nation with world class services in a more efficient and effective manner thanks to these policies. Companies across the economic spectrum have worked closely with their partners to renegotiate existing agreements and to reduce costs for health insurance and healthcare overall.

Dr. Samir Abbas

CEO, Dr. Samir Abbas Hospital

The Ministry of Health (MoH), just like every governmental body in any country, cannot function efficiently unless under very special circumstances. The government for a long time kept paying a lot of money to treat people for free, but this cannot carry on forever. There is misuse; the government appoints a lot of people as part of its philosophy to do the job and eventually that will lead to the service that it offers being expensive compared to what private hospitals can offer, and with higher quality. What it decided in the end, especially with the economic situation with the low oil prices, is that it is time to change policy with the 2030 Vision. This should push insurance companies to cover everybody, which we think is the right thing to do. So, the government will create public companies to run MoH hospitals. It is a great step that the country and the people need badly, as everybody needs to have good service.

Sobhi Batterjee

CEO & President, Sobhi Batterjee

Saudi Arabia is a giant that has been sleeping. In the past, it was kind and generous to everyone, but not particularly productive. Now the country will start to produce. The reforms imply that people will have to give, and not just take. This shift in policy has provoked a shockwave to the system. Imagine a budget of USD250 billion a year that was spent as if it was the duty of the government to spend it. Now, it is being invested in infrastructure and change through the private sector. For example, the Ministry of Health budget of around USD28 billion is going to be spent through the private sector by creating partnerships, outsourcing services, and selling assets or interest in them. Why the private sector? The government cannot make decisions at the speed the private sector can, nor can it run operations as efficiently. Government policy is also working to shift more of the responsibility for the country’s growth to the private sector.

Dr. Adnan Al Zahrani

Acting CEO and Chief Medical and Administrative Officer, Care National Hospital, National Medical Care Company (CARE)

The challenge in Saudi Arabia is not the lack of bed availability but rather utilization of available resources more effectively. For example, after a total knee replacement surgery in a government hospital, a patient can stay for two or three weeks compared to a four days stay in the private sector with no difference in outcome. The private sector is more cost effective, and this is why the government plans to increase private sector participation in total healthcare spending from 25 to 35% by 2020. Another challenge is fragmentation with different government institutions providing healthcare to their employees, each with its own budget. The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Defense, the National Guards, universities, and the Ministry of Interior each have their own budgets and provide healthcare service to beneficiaries which include employees and their eligible family members, which complicates the sector and results in inefficiencies. If the entire health sector came under one umbrella and these services are supervised accordingly it would benefit the country as a whole.



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