Examining the GCC’s evolving multi-billion-dollar healthcare industry, Investcorp, a leading global provider and manager of alternative investments, has offered several recommendations in its recently launched white paper on improving the operating environment, reducing costs and increasing opportunities across the industry’s value chain.
Titled, “A Health Prescription for the GCC”, the white paper identifies four areas of weakness in the region’s healthcare industry, namely, insufficient access and quality of care, the high cost of treatment of a relatively young population and the increasing burden of funding on GCC governments - the current primary spenders on healthcare in the region. These gaps must be bridged, and several weaknesses need to be addressed for the industry to reach global standards.
Based on tried and tested models, global best practices and deep knowledge of the GCC’s healthcare industry, the paper offers six vital remedies and highlights key priorities to help improve it.
Rabih Khouri, Managing Director, Corporate Investment MENA at Investcorp
The paper recommends that the Gulf countries improve their wellness and prevention measures, for example, by promoting a healthy food and exercise regimen for their citizens and encouraging screening and health checks. It says that prevention and early diagnosis are widely recognised as effective levers to reduce healthcare costs and improve clinical outcomes.
Second, to help fill supply gaps with adequate care, there needs to be a focus on increasing the number of specialised facilities and improving the quality of services, by, for instance, partnering with experienced Western institutions.
Third, as the private sector remains somewhat fragmented in the GCC, healthcare providers, such as hospitals and clinics, need to consolidate to benefit from economies of scale. The top five private hospital groups in the KSA, for example, account for just one-fourth of all private beds, and the top five in the UAE make up 40%, while similarly sized Western markets are much more consolidated.
Fourth, the paper stresses the importance of privatisation to improve the overall healthcare system and infrastructure. Private players, for instance, can help public providers and the overall system become more efficient, using techniques already proven in many parts of the world.
Fifth, it recommends that governments try value-based care systems to incentivise good behaviour and reduce costs. Finally, the paper emphasises the need for greater cooperation between GCC nations and pooling of purchasing power and infrastructure.
Commenting on the white paper, Tristan de Boysson, Co-Head of Corporate Investment for MENA at Investcorp, said: “The GCC healthcare industry is undergoing a much-needed transformation, mainly driven by the pressure on governments to shift the burden of funding to the private sector and the rise of the patient as a ‘consumer’ of healthcare services. The change is creating plenty of opportunities, and the buildup of a more complete eco-system.”
According to Rabih Khouri, Managing Director, Corporate Investment MENA at Investcorp, “Encouraging steps have already been taking place to help take the GCC healthcare industry to global standards. The magnitude of the transformation is highest in Saudi Arabia, where new regulations are being prepared as well as a substantial privatisation programme. I believe the transformation will considerably raise the standards of healthcare and better meet the population’s expectations.”