November 16, 2021, Saudi Arabia: Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology, today announced the publication of its Future Health Index (FHI) 2021 Saudi Arabia report: ‘A Resilient Future: Healthcare leaders look beyond the crisis’. Now in its sixth year, the Future Health Index 2021 report is based on proprietary research across 14 countries, including Saudi Arabia, representing the largest global survey of its kind to analyse the current and future priorities of healthcare leaders worldwide.
Feedback from healthcare leaders – including executive officers, financial officers, technology and information officers, operating officers and more – explores the challenges they have faced since the onset of the pandemic, and where their current and future priorities lie, revealing a new vision for the future of healthcare. With a focus on patient-centred healthcare enabled by smart technology, their vision is shaped by a fresh emphasis on partnerships, sustainability and new models of care delivery, both inside and outside the hospital.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their ability to plan for the coming years, healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia are largely optimistic (99%) in the country’s healthcare system and feel confident (86%) in the ability of their hospital/healthcare facility to deliver quality healthcare three years from now.
“It is inspiring to see how confident healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia are in the capabilities of the country’s healthcare system and our healthcare facilities to deliver on quality care”, said Eng. Mohamed Sindi, CEO of Philips Healthcare Saudi Arabia.
A strong sense of optimism for the future and embracing value-based care
As they continue to respond to the crisis as a top priority, healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia are currently more likely than those across many of the other countries surveyed to prioritise a shift to remote or virtual care. Healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia (71%) are among the most likely of those surveyed to pursue a shift towards value-based care in the future, potentially due to the health sector transformation program in alignment with vision 2030. The vast majority (99%) agree that current healthcare policies and plans in their country are contributing to building a resilient healthcare system.
Taking a three-step approach to digital transformation
As healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia adapt to the immense changes of the past year and prepare for the future of healthcare, they appear to be taking a three-step approach to digital transformation.
Building a lasting digital health legacy
Healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia are currently investing in telehealth in higher numbers than those across many of the other countries surveyed, (81%) suggesting large-scale recognition of the value of virtual care delivery.
While telehealth has been crucial for both healthcare providers and patients during the pandemic, 14% of healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia expect that investment in the technology will drop significantly in the future. One possible reason could be that innovations put in place today, will build a foundation for further digital transformation throughout the sector.
Investing in Artificial Intelligence (AI)
While healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia say telehealth is the digital health technology their hospital or healthcare facility are currently investing most heavily in, investments will shift in the next three years, with 98% saying they would most like to invest in AI in the future. Almost three-quarters (71%) say AI technologies like those to predict outcomes or to integrate diagnostics is the digital health technology they would most like to invest in the future.
Driving change with strategic partnerships
Roughly half (47%) of the healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia, higher than those across many of the other countries surveyed, believe that prioritising strategic partnerships and collaborations is necessary to successfully implement digital health technologies within their hospital or healthcare facility. Healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia (44%) want to collaborate with other private hospitals or healthcare facilities to drive digital transformation within their hospital or healthcare facility.
However, as they pursue this three-step-digital approach, healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia face barriers that must be overcome to successfully prepare for the future and fully leverage digital health technologies, including staff inexperience and difficulties with data management.
“I am delighted by the pace at which Digi-health solutions have been so well adopted and implemented locally and this excites me about the future and the further evolution of AI solutions in healthcare”, said Eng. Mohamed Sindi. “This year’s report explores how healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia want to collaborate with other private hospitals and healthcare facilities to drive digital transformation within the facility. In addition, a shift towards remote or virtual care and data privacy security remain high on the priority list”.
Care beyond the hospital walls and groundbreaking push towards sustainability
“By aligning ourselves to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 , which includes the Health Sector Transformative Program, based on the principles of value-based care, we believe we are well positioned to continue improving people’s lives”, said Eng. Mohamed Sindi.
In three years from now, healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia expect about a fourth of routine care to be delivered beyond hospital walls. As they look to the future, ambulatory primary care centres are expected to account for a much greater share of out-of-hospital routine care delivery compared to today. The home, as well as pharmacies and other retail locations are also expected to grow in their use as care delivery locations in the future, potentially facilitated by the increased adoption of digital health solutions.
The healthcare sector around the world faces the task of building a more sustainable healthcare ecosystem. Healthcare leaders in Saudi Arabia expect to shift their focus to implementing sustainability practices (71%) and to a greater degree than the average of those surveyed across the 14 countries.
Since 2016, Philips has conducted original research to help determine the readiness of countries to address global health challenges and build efficient and effective health systems.