The Business Year

Dr. Abdulrahman Mohammed Al Muammar

SAUDI ARABIA - Health & Education

Treating roughly 1.5 million people per year

CEO, King Saud University Medical City (KSUMC)


Dr. Abdulrahman Mohammed Al Muammar is a Professor at the department of ophthalmology and consultant of refractive surgery, cornea, external eye disease, and uveitis at KSUMC. He earned his MBBS from the same university and completed his postgraduate residency in ophthalmology at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He started his executive career in 2008 as the Medical Director of King Abdulaziz University Hospital in 2008. He then acted as the General Supervisor of Self-Operation Program at the Medical City till 2013 and consequently became Vice Rector for Health Specialties at King Saud University (KSU). His most remarkable work experience was obtaining accreditation and building the governance model for KSUMC.

"Our intention is to develop a family medicine center and serve the KSU population, which is about 250,000, including all employees, students, and families."

What is your vision on healthcare clusters via medical cities and how it can enhance efficiencies and the allocation of staff and equipment?

This is one of the major moves by the Ministry of Health in the way it envisions distributing health services equitably across national geography. Currently, we have constraints in planning our services due to difficulties in defining our catchment area. Some hospitals serve patients triple their serving capacity while other hospitals have underutilized capacity. The ministry seeks to make every hospital committed to a certain area linked to a defined area, providing population specific services. In this way, hospitals can serve based on their capacity. This has been a long awaited move since we treat roughly 1.5 million people/year while our effective operational capacity is roughly 600,000-800,000 as our catchment area is not defined and we receive referrals from all over the country. The cluster will also help hospitals to plan for expansions according to the real catchment areas. It will reduce competition that currently exists between health sectors as sometimes there are two facilities expanding with the same capacity, sub specialty, and catchment area. This will facilitate proper allocation of resources throughout the country and I truly believe it is a promising move.

How do you allocate your investments to build specialty centers?

It goes back to community need; when we define the community we are serving, then we are able to determine the real need. Rural places are different from urban places in terms of the burden of diseases; certain geographic locations have more congenital diseases than others. It is essential to conduct comprehensive community assessment to define the catchment area in order to decide on the services based on the needs. At times there are advanced tertiary cases that can be referred elsewhere, and if we do not have referral access, we will develop the capacity ourselves.

What is the hospital group’s vision to address and enhance preventative care issues?

Most of it is awareness and public education, either through different workshops and exhibitions or through social media. Our intention is to develop a family medicine center and serve the KSU population, which is about 250,000, including all employees, students, and families. The current plan is to build a database for the KSU population through the family medicine center and through that database we will reach out to patients and do the necessary screening and intervention, the necessary education, and introduce technological solutions to access all the population in the most efficient manner. In this way we hope to reduce, for example, instances of child obesity through nutritional education for families with high instances of diabetes or hypertension, in order to facilitate early detection. If we prevent this at an early stage, we can minimize the long-term complications. We are also encouraging campaigns for smoking cessation and advocating for exercise; these are the major areas that we aim to work on.

Can you tell us more about the interaction between education and healthcare and the focus areas for research?

Every time we do a project or make a plan, we take into consideration its impact on educational research. There is a huge gap in family physicians and people specialized in family medicine and this gap can be bridged by the family medicine center. We need more graduates and training opportunities in the field to bridge this gap. Most research is focused on treatments with a combination of medicine, therapy, and surgical interventions, focusing public health research. We have a public health unit and with the necessary support we want it to grow and start tackling public health issues on a larger scale to determine the bigger interventional opportunities. We want to introduce technology with a new system of accessible healthcare and establish a virtual clinic with an experienced healthcare staff on call. We will also make accessible at home devices for people with diabetes, who will be able to scan their blood sugar levels with a smartphone application that sends the information to the clinic. When there is an abnormal reading, we can have them come to the clinic and adjust their medication; the same thing applies for blood pressure devices. This will reduce the need for patients to come to the hospital while allowing us to see more patients within the timeframe. The information can also be used for research and highlight people who are at risk, allowing us to intervene early to prevent complications.

How have you advanced with private sector collaboration?

Within research, we are branching into two arms, and we have a clinical trial unit established where we expect to attract big pharma companies to run their own trials on the Saudi population through this new reliable standardized facility. This should show us where we can intervene with drugs and new devices, and support our basic research lab through attracting companies also to come and initiate basic scientific research. The leveraging of technology presents exciting opportunities and there are many areas to develop, especially with smartphone applications. We started 13 applications for our patients and employees, to better gauge their experiences, define policies, and determine utilization so that we can optimally serve patients.

What is your outlook and ambitions for the hospital group in the next year?

We strive to improve our emergency services and are working with the case management unit to enhance it. Another target is to enhance overall patient experience, at all levels—communication, environment, care, and quality—and we place great emphasis on it. For our staff, we are establishing a new program called the staff experience program, to better understand staffs’ atmosphere at work and their needs, as this strongly affects all our projects. We plan to maintain our stride and work within the budget restrictions, as this is a current challenge that we are willing to tackle.



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