MEDICAL ASSISTANCE

Saudi Arabia 2016 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Khalid Al-Sebaiay, CEO of Specialized Medical Center (SMC), on collaboration between government and private hospitals, its focus on its patients, and future expansion plans for the hospital.

Dr. Khalid Al-Sebaiay
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Khalid Al-Sebaiay is CEO of Specialized Medical Center (SMC). He holds an MBBS from Cairo University and a diploma in child health from University College, Dublin. He previously held a number of positions such as executive director business center for the National Guard Health Affairs, Chief of Medical Staff of NGHA, and Director of Pediatric Ambulatory Care. Al-Sebaiay is a member of the board of trustees for the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, the Deputy Chairman of the medical committee for the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a member of Saudi Arabia Health Care Strategy Executive Committee, and a consultant pediatrician at SMC Hospital.

What have been the milestones of SMC since its establishment?

SMC opened its doors to patients in 1999 as an outpatient clinic facility. It started by providing healthcare to the local community and their families. Soon after that, it saw a growing demand for day surgery services and added these services. Existing facilities were converted from a day surgery center to a fully operational hospital. In the ensuing years, the number of clinics and beds increased, and with the addition of a second tower, the need to fill these additional beds became a priority. Thus, a concept was created to establish collaboration between the government and the private sector for the former to outsource various types of services to private hospitals. The National Guard hospital transferred some of its patients to SMC. This new model between the government and the private sector proved to be successful and demand for similar services increased, with King Faisal, Security Hospital and military hospitals redirecting some of their patients to private hospitals where they could receive the same level of services and quality.

What are the main elements of this center that make it a symbol of trust?

The most important is the investment in highly qualified human capital, which is one of the main elements of success. SMC's personnel are well experienced and trained and many have been with us for several years. Second, having a dedicated and qualified management team is essential. We encourage an open door policy, whereby patients and staff can express any comments or complaints to me, the directors, or to any other manager in the hospital. Thirdly, all of us place the patient first and treat them and their requirements as an utmost priority. In order to reach the highest levels of quality care and service, we have partnered with distinguished companies such as Siemens, Philips, and Medtronic. We always expand and seek new strategic partnerships, as they enrich our experience and give us the possibility to assist our patients with the highest quality of care.

What is the role of the private sector in the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia?

The future of the Kingdom is the private sector. We are no different from the rest of the world. In the US and Europe, the private sector is the leader in healthcare-related services. In Saudi Arabia, the private sector is expanding considerably. We now provide tertiary care services, which is the highest care that can be given to patients. The private sector currently accounts for around 20-30% of the Saudi Arabian healthcare market. This trend is also confirmed by the establishment of new medical colleges and the introduction of the private sector to train these medical students. Finally, the government has a long-term plan to provide medical insurance coverage for the entire Saudi population in the next five years. Currently, the largest competitor for the private sector is the government. If the government stops investing and expanding its healthcare network and facilities, it will be our turn to grow, and in the coming five or six years there will be a gradual growth of between 25 and 50%.

What are SMC's expansion plans?

We are now studying expanding into the eastern and western regions; however, we will not likely start any projects in the next five years. Saudi Arabia is a large country and medical services are needed. It is not just the expansion in buildings that is important, but the methods of delivering services too. At the moment, we are expanding horizontally. We recently signed an agreement with a pharmaceutical company in Lebanon to establish a pharmaceutical factory in Jeddah. This was a strategic plan for us, as the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Saudi Arabia is quite limited and the government is encouraging the private sector to get involved. We believe that pharmaceutical manufacturing is a strategic area for the future, which is why we are investing in a modern and highly sophisticated manufacturing plant.