Healthy dose of IT

Ali H. Ghunaim, IT manager at Mouwasat GroupHaving recently added the Mouwasat Hospital in Riyadh to its existing chain of hospitals in Dammam, Jubail, Madinah and Qatif, the Mouwasat Healthcare Group in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is on a mission. The Group’s mission is a simple one – to establish itself as a dominant force to be reckoned with in healthcare provision in the Middle East region.

In addition, Mouwasat is also shaping itself into a healthcare chain that delivers comprehensive healthcare and medical services to patients throughout the KSA and the entire Middle East region by adopting the latest state-of the art technologies.

Clearly, technology standardisation of hardware and software platforms, as well as process within the group’s IT infrastructure is priority as the hospital group adopts the latest healthcare solutions that meet the ever changing landscape of medical services in the region. By standardising its processes, the Mouwasat group is hoping to eliminate the duplication of process through out its hospitals, a move that will assist all its hospitals to have a single view of a patient’s history.

To achieve this, the healthcare group is aware that it can not be content with just implementing the latest and advanced technology. The company says it needs to utilise technology to better serve and provide quality healthcare and efficient medical services to patients.

Although the group has used IT healthcare solutions in its network of hospitals, pharmacies, medical centres and education centre, it’s coming up with an integrated IT infrastructure which meets regulatory and corporate governance issues on the one hand and providing patients with excellent medical care on the other that Mouwasat needs to get right.

This means, overcoming day-to-day challenges that hinder the provision of medical services that any healthcare provider faces in this sector.

For the Mouwasat Group, ensuring that the group’s billing systems, accounting and financial systems, patient history and medical records archiving systems and electronic insurance filing systems are in order is of utmost importance.

In addition, the Mouwasat needs to link its chain of hospitals with an efficient and reliable network platform that meets today’s converged network that carries data, voice and video all on the same network.

IT Infrastructure

With more than 4000 employees in the group comprising doctors, nurses, paramedics, administration and other supporting staff, the company has had to implement an integrated ERP system to effectively manage its day-to-day functions management of the hospitals and other administrative related functions.

Ali H. Ghunaim, IT manager at Mouwasat Group, says as the group’s network of hospital continues to grow, it has become imperative for the company to continue investing in innovative technologies that help it to manage not only the growth but also propel it forward in healthcare provision.

Ghunaim says the group already boasts a wireless IP Telephony network infrastructure, video conferencing solutions and is also exploring possibilities in the TelePresence space.

On the administration side of the business, Ghunaim says the Mouwasat Group has implemented the Oracle ERP solution on its back-end and has centralised its entire administration operation across the all the hospitals, pharmacies, medical centres and the education centre.

However, despite all these IT investments, Ghunaim says it is meaningless to have the best IT healthcare solutions when your patients have to wait for long hours before receiving any medical attention. “As we implement new technologies, we take cognisance of the fact that any technology we implement should improve the overall patient experience,” he says.

Ghunaim says that the technology implementations have had to come with some challenges. “Eventually through our ERP systems, the group is moving towards an integrated billing, medical history archiving and electronic filing system for medical insurance as required by the KSA law,” he says.

He says all these governance issues and regulatory requirements have meant that Mouwasat implements technology that is resilient and reliable.

The Mouwasat Group has Cisco as it main platform for the group’s entire network infrastructure and will continue to innovate and implement technologies that assist its network of hospitals in KSA to provide the highest of standard of medical care.

Brief history

The origin of the Mouwasat Group dates back to 1975, when the Mouwasat Dispensary in Dammam was launched – the first private medical clinic in that region.

Four years later in 1979, Mouwasat undertook the operation and the administration of the clinics in the residential area of Jubail industrial city, through a 9-year operation contract amounting to more than SAR 400 million.

In 1984, Mouwasat established its first owned comprehensive medical facility which was named Al-Mouwasat Hospital in Dammam with the actual operation starting in 1988. This start is considered to be the real start of the healthcare Group and the cornerstone which led to establishing other Mouwasat medical facilities through the KSA.

In the years that followed in 2000, the Group started operating Mouwasat Medical Dispensary in Al-Ahsa, and Mouwasat Hospital in Madinah through a rental contract with a duration of 20 years.

Looking ahead

With a two to three year IT budget of approximately US$4million, Mouwasat would like to continue investing in technology that has a positive impact on the provison of healthcare services in the Middle East. To this end, Mouwasat plans to enhance the its chain of hospitals and medical centres with as sophisticated IP Telephony infrastructure that makes it easy for inter-hospital and hospital-patient communication. In addition, the Group would like to integrate all its back-end systems, a move it believes will give it a centralised a consolidated view of its entire operations.

Ghunaim adds that today, the medical network of Mouwasat hospital and medical facilities cover the main cities in the KSA including Dammam, Riyadh, Al-Qatif, Al-Khobar, Jubail, Madina, and Al-Ahsa. “We have grown and continue to do so at a rapid pace,” he notes. It is important for us to focus on ways which will help us to manage this growth prudently without compromising services to patients.”

He says by implementing technologies that simplifies healthcare delivery to patients, the company is keeping its promise of being a trusted medical services provider in the region.

Ghunaim emphasises that new technology adoption and rollouts throughout its chain of hospitals is not just about having the latest technology, but how the company can leverage off its existing IT healthcare solutions’ infrastructure and build better business solutions that delivers the bottom line. “At the end of the day, it’s is the bottom line that counts.

With most vendors such as Sony Professional and Cisco Systems pushing for TelePresence solutions for the healthcare industry, Mouwasat will definitely be following developments in this space closely.

TelePresence solutions in the healthcare sector are becoming mainstream, with public and private sector hospitals in the Middle East jumping onto the bandwagon.

Going by the group’s innovative approach to using technology in its core business of offering healthcare services, it will be sooner rather than later that the company adopts TelePresence and other video conferencing solutions for its hospitals. When that happens, it will be mission accomplished for Mouwasat.

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