Out of hospital care services an opportunity for Saudi Arabia

04 March 2020 Consultancy-me.com 4 min. read
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Saudi Arabia’s health system will benefit tremendously from better out of hospital and community-based services, as the Kingdom adopts Integrated Care Systems (ICS) to deliver great patient experience and outcomes at lower costs, according to a new report by KPMG Al Fozan & Partners.

The healthcare sector is undergoing a huge transformation as part of the Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to strengthen primary care as a key vehicle for better access and affordability.

Although direct international comparisons are difficult, on average, member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) spend around 28 per cent of their healthcare resources on inpatient care, compared to 47 per cent in Saudi Arabia.

Emmeline Roodenburg, Head of Healthcare at KPMG in Saudi Arabia and lead author of the report ‘The Essence of Extended Care’, commented: “Many Saudi patients could be better cared for through dedicated pre- and post-acute extended services.

What is out of hospital care

Described as ‘out of hospital care’, pre-acute services includes initiatives such as chronic disease programs, community clinics, pharmacy, patient peer-support networks and social care, while post-acute options include hospital-at-home, care delivered in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, community rehabilitation and palliative care.

“The ICS and Model of Care components of the National Healthcare Transformation Strategy are tasked with tackling this and will stand or fall on whether the reforms go beyond organisational restructuring and payment model redesign,” she added.

Since strengthening out of hospital services is critical to fulfilling the aims of the Kingdom’s 2030 Healthcare Transformation Strategy, KPMG proposes a cluster-based approach in which each region designs its services based on the local needs of their population.

The 7-step transformation journey should include: Create and agree on the vision based on population needs; Agree on measures and outcomes, Outline governance and accountability arrangements; Create partnerships; Co-produce services and solutions; Implement, and Scale and sustain.

Saudi Arabia’s health transformation journey

Digital tools

Furthermore, the report found that staff working to improve integrated care across hospitals and the community frequently cite fragmented technology platforms as one the biggest barriers to improving out of hospital care services and better managing patient transitions.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has itself developed an ambitious eHealth strategy that seeks to connect all levels of care digitally, alongside a five-year implementation plan. This represents a major investment in healthcare technology, as well as a significant clinical, operational and cultural challenges.

“Managing a program of this nature will require a highly organised governance structure, as well as flexibility to change as new technological tools become available during the period of implementation,” said Roodenburg.

The now and the nearly of digital tools to enhance out of hospital care

The researchers of the accounting and consulting firm stressed that the difference is in action and not clever policy design alone: the detailed work of bringing partners together, co-designing services with patients and caregivers, supporting staff to work differently, and investing in the technologies that can link up different professionals and settings.

“There is strong evidence to suggest that from a structural perspective, healthcare provision in Saudi Arabia is far more skewed towards traditional hospital-based services. We believe that successful global extended care initiatives can guide Saudi Arabia’s path to success,” Roodenburg said.

She added, “Key is not to focus on clever policy design alone. The difference is made by bringing partners together, co-designing services with patients and caregivers, supporting staff to work differently, and investing in the technologies that can link up different professionals and settings.”