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SAUDI ARABIA - Health & Education

Khalil Jamaleddine

CEO, Medtronic Saudi Arabia

Bio

Khalil Jamaleddine is the Vice President for the Arabian Peninsula region at Medtronic plc. He has earned his Bachelor of Engineering Degree from the American University of Beirut Class of 1990. He also completed his Master of Business Administration from the same school in 2011. Khalil is one of the founding members of the company’s operations in the Middle East and Africa region and has been with Medtronic for over 28 years in various roles. In 2013 he led the creation of Medtronic’s first direct operation in the Arab world. Medtronic Saudi Arabia was born in August 2015. Since then, the company has grown from zero employees to more than 400 employees in 2022, more than 65% of which are local Saudi talent. Medtronic Saudi Arabia today is the largest medical device company in the region with KSA serving as its headquarters for the GCC zone. Khalil continues to be motivated by Medtronic’s mission of alleviating pain, restoring health, and extending life. Today, every minute, two patients’ lives are improved in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia using a Medtronic therapy.

"The healthcare sector in the Kingdom is somewhat unique. From a demographic standpoint, there are two main attributes causing an increased demand."
TBY talks to Khalil Jamaleddine, CEO of Medtronic Saudi Arabia, about trends in healthcare, aligning with the Kingdom’s stated priorities, and digitalization.
Can you elaborate on the peculiarities and main trends defining the Kingdom’s healthcare sector?

The healthcare sector in the Kingdom is somewhat unique. From a demographic standpoint, there are two main attributes causing an increased demand. First, people are living longer and the segment of population above the age of 65 is growing rapidly, placing greater demand on the healthcare sector. Then, Vision 2030 is attracting more people to come to the Kingdom, and with the expat population also growing, we expect the demand for healthcare to continue to grow exponentially in the coming years. Another factor that makes this place special is that the government remains totally committed to providing top-notch healthcare for free to its citizens. This creates a great opportunity for the industry in terms of being here and providing access… The evolution—or even revolution—of the healthcare sector by using a hub and spoke model through the 21 clusters being deployed across the Kingdom also addresses the access issue. By properly organizing these clusters, primary or secondary care centers are now able to systematically refer patients to the right place where they can receive treatment.

Medtronic is a global healthcare technology leader operating in 150 countries. How would you assess the importance and potential of KSA for the company?

We are investing heavily here. In 2013, Medtronic realized that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would be critical to our success in the region because of the real and sizeable opportunities that exist in this market. In 2015, we established Medtronic Saudi Arabia, the first medical device company to have a foreign direct investment in the Kingdom. We quickly went from virtually no one to more than 400 employees in just seven years, doing sales, clinical support, training, service and repair, clinical trials and most recently manufacturing. We have offices in Riyadh, Jeddah, and the Eastern Zone; but because the Kingdom is a large country, we also have feet on the street in most remote regions. Since there are also many people living in remote areas around the country, having Medtronic representatives in these areas helps ease the problem of access.

Medtronic creates “lasting impact for patients, physicians, and communities to ensure future generations live better, healthier lives.” How does this mission align with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030?

In 2018 we turned Medtronic Saudi Arabia into our RHQ for the entire Gulf region which allowed to leverage our learnings and experience in the Kingdom to better serve the rest of the Gulf countries. In Saudi, we’ve also deployed programs that align with the national Vision, hence significantly differentiating Medtronic even more from other local players. We have deployed two value creating solutions: one is a diabetic clinic in Al Ahsa and another is the optimization of a cardiac clinic in the eastern zone. Diabeter is a Dutch clinic that Medtronic acquired a few years ago, and is a certified center dedicated to providing comprehensive and individualized care for T1 Pediatric Diabetes patients. We can track diabetic patients all the way from screening to treatment to follow up using an IT system that allows patients and their physicians to track their glucose levels remotely. This was deployed before the pandemic, and during COVID-19, we were able to follow up our patients remotely from their homes. It reduced the hospitalization rate for these patients while dramatically improving their quality of their life, their time-in-range for their glucose levels, and hence life expectancy. The clinical outcome was the real target. One unique thing was that we deployed a value-based system where the technology or industry gets paid only when the patient benefits, not when they sell their products. This is something that we are proud of. The cardiac clinic in the eastern zone is another highlight: we optimized every single aspect of the operations of the clinic, reduced waste, delivered savings and increased utilization, treating more patients with the same resources: This is another of our success stories in terms of not just selling our products but deploying solutions that align with Vision 2030 and help optimize the healthcare system. During the pandemic, we also supported the localization of medical products by producing ventilators locally. In local manufacturing, we’re currently working on a big pipeline to localize more products in many areas. We are working on expanding our solutions in partnership with the government and with the support of many Ministries including the Ministry of Investment, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance.

What emphasis do you place on establishing collaborations with local universities and research centers?

Our clinical department runs the full gamut of clinical trials in the Kingdom, including pre-market and post-market release trials. In fact, the data coming out of the Kingdom is of such high quality that they are used for FDA approval in the US. With the help of the SFDA we’ve also have started clinical trials here that will be used for approval outside the Kingdom.

How is the company focused on using digitalization to take leadership in the market?

We have a department just focused on the digitalization of our solutions. We partner with our clients in both the private sector, and the government. Electronically, we have our e-store, an Amazon-like webpage where our customers can purchase our products. We are working to deploy an IDE solution with the government. We are also partnering with virtual hospitals. In late 2022, we did the first remote heart valve implant from the Virtual Hospital in partnership with the Ministry of Health. In terms of our competitive advantage, our footprint in the Kingdom is completely unique because we are literally everywhere, in big cities as well as in remote areas. Our efforts in terms of localizing products and deploying solutions with value-based programs also set us completely apart. In terms of our successes in the areas of cardiac therapies, neuroscience, surgical, and even diabetes, we are by far the leader in every single sector in all these spaces.

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