PEOPLE-CENTERED CARE

Oman 2019 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

As Oman is confronted with increasing demand for the treatment of chronic non-communicable diseases, the RH continues to expand its services to create a culture of continuous improvement.

Dr. Qasem Bin Ahmed Al-Salmi
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Qasem Bin Ahmed Al-Salmi graduated from Sultan Qaboos University College of Medicine and did his residency and fellowship training at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas. There, he attained US Board certification in Pediatrics and Pediatric Pulmonology. He later completed a master's degree in public health at the University of Texas-Houston. Besides being a senior consultant, Al-Salmi is Director General of the Royal hospital. During his nine years as the Director General, the hospital received the Accreditation Canada International Certification and several other awards. He is known for introducing programs for leadership development and LEAN methodology.

How does the operating model for Royal Hospital differ compared to private hospitals?

The operation model of the RH differs in many ways. First, it operates as a highly specialized public tertiary care provider for the whole country, while also working as a secondary care hospital for the capital. We are a not-for-profit service and our mandate covers the entire population of the Sultanate. Second, the service is provided based on a national healthcare delivery matrix of institutions connected by an electronic referral system. The care is provided free of charge for Omani citizens and to non-Omani citizens if they are employed by the government. Third, the hospital supports other non-Omani residents of Oman when specific services are not available in the private healthcare sector, albeit this category of patients represents only 4 to 5%. Finally, the hospital outsources services that are needed but not available in-house such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, immunological essays, and other highly specialized genetic and biochemical laboratory tests.

How are you independent from the Ministry of Health, and in what ways does it guide your operations?

RH is the only health service provider within the Ministry of Health's structure to be under the minister's office directly. It is governed by a board chaired by the minister of health with membership of leaders from the hospital and the Ministry of Health. The board creates the vision and strategic objectives for the hospital and sets in place the hospital policies, values, and long-term planning. As a result, the hospital has a significant degree of human resources and budgetary autonomy and makes its own decisions about employment and how to allocate expenditures; however, certain procedures of tendering and financing large projects are governed by the Ministry of Health.

Which services has the hospital seen increasing demand for, and how are you working to increase your capacity in response?

With the rapid growth in population, life expectancy, and increased survival of patients with chronic conditions, the health system in Oman is confronted with the challenge of increasing demand for the care of chronic non-communicable diseases. These require chronic follow-up to provide preventive and curative services through outpatient, inpatient, and day-care services. The hospital had to continue expanding these services several fold over the years. Some of the RH's departments have evolved to be highly specialized semi-autonomous national centers. As of now, apart from the several tertiary care clinical services housed within the main hospital, the RH's complex operates a National Heart Centre (NHC), a National Oncology Centre (NOC), a National diabetes and Endocrinology Centre (NEDC), a National Genetic Centre (NGC), and the National Hyperbaric Medicine Centre (NHMC). The departments and services of the hospital play a major role in adapting to increasing and changing demands. The hospital incorporates process optimization using continual improvement LEAN methodology to improve safety, quality, and productivity to deliver high-value services for the community. The hospital has also been a pioneer in introducing transformative efforts that have started to show success in creating a culture of continuous improvement. RH prioritizes improving clients' experience and thrives to provide a client-centered care. This approach will result in further quantitative and qualitative improvements in the services we provide for the community and a deeper engagement and integration with other healthcare providers.

What are your primary objectives over the next 12 months?

The hospital will execute a strategy to enhance a culture of quality and people-centered care. To achieve this, we adopted a strategy to build high performing and effective leadership capacity and established a framework of leadership competency model for RH's current and future leaders. These efforts will not only result in improving the client experience in the short to mid term, but will also result in a sustainable culture and establish systems in which RH's clients will be part of all planning and decision-making activities.