Delivering a new model of primary healthcare in Saudi Arabia

29 September 2020 3 min. read
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The development of enhanced primary care is a multi-organisational and interprofessional endeavour that requires a diverse workforce, enthusiastically engaged around a shared vision of transforming the way health and care are delivered, as well as keeping the person at the center of care delivery, write Samar Nassar, Healthcare Director at KPMG Saudi Arabia, and Niti Pall, Global Medical Director at KPMG.

Enhanced primary care helps integrate the provision of care and direct patients to the most cost-efficient channels, making hospitals a “last resort”. Primary care facilities can be the start of integrated care clusters within which patients can seamlessly flow between home, virtual, primary, hospital and long-term health services.

The system offers the potential to facilitate dramatic changes in care pathways and increased collaboration between provider organisations. In addition, it is the natural delivery channel for the model of care pillars. 

KPMG’s participatory approach at developing a high performing enhanced primary care system aims at long-term, systemic behavioural change. Although working with a system in the UK, Optum developed a mitigated projection of potential savings over 10 years through interventions if applied across the entire system. 

Delivering a new model of primary healthcare in Saudi Arabia

The system covers a population of just over a million people including a high number of young (0 to 14 years) and lower-than-average older people above 75 years. The system partnership includes all acute, primary, community and local authority providers that serve this population. 

The design principles that KPMG and Optum developed enhanced primary care, implementing new models of care that will eventually lead to potential savings. In fact, our approaches are complementary to implementing enhanced primary care across the healthcare ecosystem. 

Population health management requires health and care systems to focus on patients rather than organisations. A focus on population health and wellbeing where strong community teams are built on thriving primary care and integrating services allows for a population health management approach to be applied and delivered. 

This model takes a population-centered approach with practical and innovative local solutions to care delivery empowering patients and allowing practitioners to work to the top of their license to maximise their professional expertise. This way, it provides fertile grounds for innovation in healthcare provision and fosters collaboration as budgets are integrated and care coordinated around a patient rather than the system. 

Indicators for success

When implementing population health management, there are a few instrumental indicators for its success. First of all, how it is used to change the behaviour of the workforce at the system level and secondly how it empowers the patient to manage their own lives with the introduction of wearables and access to electronic medical records.

Technology and data management are merely an enabler to a holistic, integrated and person-centered system. Primary care is the key driver for population health management, where change is cascaded bottom-up. This change starts with regaining the confidence of patients with more traction at the primary care level. 

The seamless flow of data across the different layers of the system enables robust referrals, interoperable and integrated information technology. Thus, data can be put in use to elevate quality, access to care and reduce cost.

Implementing the new model of care is not possible without change and managing this change resides in the heart of healthcare transformation.