KPMG: Saudi Arabia gears up to create a world-class primary healthcare system

Riyadh: 25 December 2019 – New model of care programs, the goal of implementing accountable care organizations and other governmental reforms to achieve its Vision 2030 are helping to create an ideal enabling environment to develop a world-class primary care system in Saudi Arabia, KPMG Al Fozan & Partners said in its latest report titled “The Paradox of Primary Care: How Saudi Arabia can leapfrog world-class primary care systems”.

KPMG conducted a
global study across high, middle and low income countries on trends and
innovations in primary care. The research identified an almost universal
‘paradox’ between the critical strategic role assigned to the primary care
system and its relative lack of investment, importance or influence. Leaders in
healthcare see primary care as key to the transformation they want to make
across the healthcare system but at the same time don’t allow it to have enough
capacity to achieve this.

In
Saudi Arabia the healthcare sector is undergoing a huge transformation as part
of Vision 2030 which aims to strengthen primary care as
a key vehicle for better access and affordability.

“The
impetus behind the need to strengthen Saudi Arabia’s primary care system is
clear, as the Kingdom already faces some of the highest population health risk
factors in the GCC, including one of the worst rates of diabetes in the world”,
Dr. Niti Pall, KPMG’s Global Medical Director said.

“From
a health system perspective, the country is experiencing rising healthcare
costs, increased waiting times for specialist care, and overutilization of
emergency departments.

The
population segment most at risk of chronic disease – over 50s – is set to
increase rapidly in Saudi Arabia, from around 13 percent of the population in
2015 to 23 percent by 2030 unless concrete steps are taken to address the issue”,
commented Emmeline Roodenburg, Head of Healthcare, KPMG in Saudi Arabia.

“Properly
stewarded, the transformation program will create an opportunity to build a
unique new way of delivering primary care, fit for the 21st century and the
local assets and needs of the Kingdom” she continued.

Though
Saudi Arabia’s primary care system is already noted for a number of successes,
and improvements in access to care for rural populations, a host of challenges
remain such as maturity of referral systems operating between primary and
secondary care, number of fully qualified family physicians, persistent
behaviors among patients that lead them to avoid primary care in favor of
direct access to hospital, and a payment model that incentivize holistic.

“More
than any other healthcare service, improvements in primary care need to be
locally designed and led. But the speed and scale of wider change must be
managed in such a way that doesn’t stifle ownership, innovation and buy-in from
frontline staff and communities,” Niti concluded.