Health & Education

HSTP Saudi Arabia

With the Health Sector Transformation Program, Saudi Arabia seeks to make a renewed push for a quantum leap in the provision of free, top-quality healthcare services to its citizens.

One of the new features that 2022 has brought to the Vision 2030 document is the Health Sector Transformation Program (HSTP), which focuses on giving a boost to improving healthcare services in the kingdom.

Aiming to leapfrog the country in this area, the program includes a series of roadmap strategies to develop Saudi Arabia by 2030 to achieve four main objectives: facilitating access to healthcare services, improving their quality and, promoting the prevention of health risks, and improving traffic safety.

Under the leadership of Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel as chairman of the HSTP board, the program seeks to contribute to advancing Vision 2030 by identifying the major challenges facing government agencies in order to overcome them and meet different goals revolving around the four main objectives described above.

One of them, for example, is the incorporation of the Center for National Health Insurance, an agency tasked with evaluating different strategies for citizens to have easy access to health services through free insurance. To achieve this, the center will face important challenges such as creating a financial mechanism to ensure the provision of universal free health insurance.

Another key role of the Center for National Health Insurance is the financing of health clusters to expand health service delivery. These are systems inspired by international best practices to rationalize the delivery of healthcare services, which will be achieved through strategies such as the elimination of duplication and redundancies in medical institutions and the integration of primary, secondary, and specialized care into a single structure.

Thus, all hospitals and primary care centers will be relocated to these complexes spread throughout the territory, each of which will serve almost 1 million people. By merging all services into single complexes, citizens will have access to a more agile service that will improve beneficiary satisfaction. The ultimate goal of this strategy is to improve efficiency in the provision of medical specialties, reduce waiting times and have healthcare complexes closer to population centers.

Another of the pillars on which the HSTP program is based is the expansion of e-health services. This digital revolution is intended to have a positive impact on different areas of healthcare delivery, as it helps in many areas such as providing coverage to citizens living in remote areas of the country, reducing waiting times by reducing the number of patients visiting hospitals in person, or improving the medical decision-making process by enabling doctors to quickly access patients’ medical records.

The foundation on which all this transformation of the healthcare system will be based between now and 2030 is the health sector governance initiative, which aims to improve the quality and value of care. In this context, the Ministry of Health will have a redefined role as regulator and supervisor of the healthcare system and will no longer be a mere provider of medical services. In this new role, the ministry will be like an orchestra conductor who will design the necessary regulations to ensure that all objectives are met, with a particular focus on eliminating duplication of service delivery so that the entire system functions as efficiently as possible.

The improvement of healthcare services also involves the application of a modern model that serves to reduce costs. The implementation of this strategy is extremely important to minimize spending on such widespread and costly diseases as diabetes, while ensuring that no patient is left unattended. This new model is also key to getting rid of ineffective treatments that negatively impact patient satisfaction and sustainable budget control.

With this comprehensive transformation of the institutional healthcare system, the kingdom seeks to be recognized globally as a place of excellence in this segment and, in this way, better position itself in international rankings such as the Voice of the Healthcare Industry Market Outlook, developed by GRS Research & Strategy Middle East in collaboration with Explori.

In this survey, conducted among 6,128 healthcare professionals from 154 countries, 35.8% of respondents highlighted that the reason this market is attractive for investment is because of government investments and initiatives in healthcare. This percentage is the highest of the five GCC countries surveyed (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE) in the segment of government investments and initiatives as a driver of the country’s attractiveness; however, Saudi Arabia only saw 7.6% and 11.1% of respondents highlight access to financing and system stability, respectively, as the reasons for attractiveness, so these are two areas where the HSTP is looking for the country to improve.

With respect to stability, one of the problems that clinics have is staff shortage as a barrier to carrying out the job effectively. Therefore, the HSTP seeks to expand hospital staff capacity as one of the keys to being able to implement all the program’s initiatives. This involves increasing the proactivity of employees, but also the ratio of clinical staff to population. Only with more efficient professionals and more workers in all health areas will it be possible to implement the health roadmap and, thus, give a boost to this important area within the Vision 2030.