SAAD SABBAH

Saudi Arabia 2021 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Saad Sabbah, General Manager of As Salama Hospital, on successes in the past year, recent economic changes, and future expansion plans.

Could you give us an overview of how 2019 was for As Salama Hospital?

2019 was a good year for us. Our output was in double digits and turnaround was better than in previous years. We got an accreditation from the Saudi Central Board for Accreditation of Healthcare Institutions (CBAHI), and with that, we have reached a certain caliber of elite and quality hospitals. CBAHI is mandatory for almost all healthcare providers. The value of a CBAHI accreditation is the same as other international accreditation bodies. The CBAHI itself is accredited by International Accreditation Programme. Salama Hospital was established in 1958 and its reputation has grown over the years. This happened with the support of the administration and the hospital's culture of quality.

What has changed since you joined the group?

The greatest achievement was getting accredited from the CBAHI. We are getting more in line with international standards, restructuring the organization, and working to build efficiencies. We want to harness the power of the group.

What recent economic changes have you noticed in the healthcare sector?

The government is more involved than before. There have been many surveys and a push from the government to boost the quality of service. Not only CBAHI, but the Ministry of Health has been more accessible. I've seen changes in the response time for requirements and maintaining quality. In the market, we have seen growth in valuation in recent years. I think with the Vision 2030, we are going in the right direction and pushing hard. The problem is the adaptability of the companies to catch up with the requirements, but we are trying our best. The Ministry of Health introduces directives and we are following them. We have so many current projects that we believe will help Vision 2030. We are delivering chronic patient medications to doorsteps. We also have home care and a healthcare tourism system. Our plan is to move for that kind of accreditation, and this part of monetization of healthcare for 2030 is definitely something we want to play a part in.

How are you preparing for pandemics like the coronavirus?

The Ministry of Health helps a lot with directives and ensures that the compliance and readiness of the hospital are at a good level. The CBAHI team came in to check our readiness, and the Ministry of Health performed another check. We also do our own assessment and check the business continuity plan. We assessed the risk and are implementing plans as needed, on top of requirements from the Ministry of Health.

What sets As Salama Hospital apart in Saudi Arabia?

We have a great team of doctors. More and more Saudi Arabian doctors are entering the market, and we want to attract them here if we can. We have three notable Saudi Arabian doctors here already. We are renowned for providing great nursing care. We also have a large geriatric and long-term center operating for more than 30 years in this field. We are a reference in the region for this service and have trained personnel on how to handle elderly. We cater to almost all levels of care of patients. In addition, our physicians are experienced. They have been serving this region, country, and hospital for a long time. Some have been in Saudi Arabia for more than 30 years. As we are a general hospital, we do not specialize in any particular field. Our patients tend to come from the middle- and lower-income classes.

What kind of operational changes have you made to become more environmentally friendly?

We installed LED lights, a waste management system, and a solar panel system for heating. We are careful about paper and plastic waste. We have started working on a system for e-claims and are working to improve our internal hospital information system. With that, we can grow with the head office and grow together with the other four hospitals. We need more companies to recycling materials. Most companies here are willing to participate in such initiatives, but there is a lack of companies to do the recycling. If they were more readily available, we would see a wider shift toward better waste management.

What are your plans for expansion in the future?

We have a five-year business plan. We have completed some major external renovations already. At present, we are changing the interior and setting up new themes and equipment. Our plan is to ensure the hospital goes into a specialized sector. Although NMC As-Salama Medical Hospital is one of the oldest and renowned hospital in the LTC care, there is still a lot of room for improvement.