The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of economic diversification and transformation, which is taking place at a rapid pace under the guidance of its visionary leadership and strategic framework, Vision 2030.
In the same vein, healthcare remains the top priority in Saudi Arabia as its ambitious Health Sector Transformation Program envisions an integrated, efficient, and comprehensive health system for individuals and society, centred on the principles of value-based care.
Among the key factors on the road to success are establishing a health workforce to address sector needs, fortifying industry excellence, and positioning Saudi Arabia on the global map for internationally accredited quality care. And supporting the nation’s goals is the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS), which regulates healthcare professionals in Saudi Arabia via a holistic and integrated value chain with other authorities and councils that the Ministry of Health orchestrates within the health sector.
Paving the road to excellence in Saudi Arabia
SCFHS is more than a regulatory body. Besides promoting the wide-ranging competencies needed to practice high-quality healthcare, it is a unique organisation that actively participated in healthcare professional development since its establishment in 1992.
“SCFHS is one of the few entities globally that oversees the registration and training of all health professionals. Therefore, a better term for our context would be Lifelong Learning in Healthcare,” Prof. Aws Alshamsan — Secretary General of the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties said.
Thus, one of its main pillars is — accrediting professional bodies in Saudi Arabia to approve continuing professional development (CPD) hours for learning activities; recognising self-learning and e-learning as CPD activities; and collaborating with international councils to expand educational opportunities for registered healthcare professionals.
“In addition, we invest in promoting CPD practices and local capacity development. This year, more than 100 health professionals with diverse professional backgrounds graduated from an extensive CPD champion’s certification programme,” he said.
Enhancing skillsets and easing the digitalisation journey
To strengthen a strategic position across its three radars of focus, i.e., the Health Sector Transformation Program, regional strategies, and Saudi Vision 2030, SCFHS is remodeling its governance towards an integrated value chain, starting from studying the demand of healthcare professionals (HCP) to raising the practitioner’s quality in all professions and within different sectors.
“The workflow will rely on our in-house and outsourced planning and decision support arms. Therefore, research, development and innovation (RDI) became a main SCFHS core process. RDI outcomes will be reflected in our professional practice standards, educational and academic activities, credentials and evaluation, as well as HCP classification and registration system. Moreover, we did not ignore the complementary role of leadership and culture transformation, which is integral to HCP core skills,” he said.
While digital transformation facilitates easy access to care, Prof. Alshamsan believes that healthcare professionals need to be empowered with essential skillsets.
“Equally important is the model of care based on accountable care requires inter-professional educational setups that we reflect in our training activities at all levels. The Saudi Board offered in many health specialities can be a starting point to achieving the proper skill mix in any given healthcare setting,” he added.
Over the years, SCFHS eased the application process and access to multidisciplinary services for the medical and scientific community to empower inclusivity on its portal.
“Our digitalisation journey started in 2017 and our main focus was our members: the practitioners. To understand the members and their needs, we had to utilise our previous experience and innovation to come up with solutions that fit their expectations,” said Prof. Alshamsan.
Built on the practitioner journey, SCFHS was inspired to re-engineer its internal processes and enhance the user experience and application process. Hence, the Mumaris Plus platform was launched in early 2019 featuring practitioners’ services with a smooth user experience followed by Mustamir. Launched in partnership with Elm Company, the platform focused on upscaling Continuous Medical Education (CME) provided by accrediting institutions.
Acknowledging achievements and setting goals
According to the Secretary General Prof. Alshamsan, SCFHS reported a successful 2021 from a strategic, financial, and operations perspective.
“Recognising the role of SCFHS in achieving healthcare development objectives is an essential strategic goal. It empowers the partnership of national and international stakeholders to effectively promote and demonstrate the value of collaborations in leveraging on SCFHS experience through 159 agreements with local and international institutions, which led to a total of 129 cooperation programmes and achieved 100 per cent of its agreed objectives,” said Prof. Alshamsan.
Looking ahead, SCFHS is marching towards a strategic restructuring and a process-based organisation approach. “This requires implementation of new strategies and aiming to provide an ambitious framework for collective action to address challenges and achieve a more sustainable future, by supporting inclusive economic growth, and efficiently professional practitioners for a healthy community,” he concluded.
Statistics in focus
As of 2022, the Saudi Commission of Health Specialties has:
500,000 Registered health practitioners
67 Health associations
144 Training programmes
18,000+ Saudi Board trainees
13,363 Saudi Board graduates