The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to invest in healthcare innovation and adopt cutting-edge medical technologies are going full steam ahead. The government's support for research and development in the healthcare sector, encouraging the adoption of AI-driven diagnostics, precision medicine, and advanced medical devices, is becoming more prevalent within both public and private sectors.
When it comes to the healthcare infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, the role of innovation is an important one, as it can enhance care quality, patient satisfaction, and sustainable health development to match international benchmarks. By integrating advanced technologies into the healthcare sector, the Kingdom has set its sights on being at the forefront of digitalisation.
To achieve these ambitious goals, Saudi Arabia is dedicated to making significant investments in the health technology industry. The government's commitment to this project is shown in the budget allocation of nearly SR180 billion (US$50.3 billion) for healthcare and social development in 2023. A large portion of this funding will go towards digital health initiatives that will improve the healthcare system's accessibility, effectiveness, and openness.
One of these initiatives was developing a standard national electronic health record system, which serves as a thorough database to ensure patient information is available to medical experts across the country, enabling seamless cooperation and quick decision-making. Investment in telemedicine platforms is also prioritised, guaranteeing access to healthcare even in rural locations.
Leading medical technologies in Saudi
In an interview, Burhaan Khan, Senior Director, Advisory & Account Lead Ministry of Health, KPMG in Saudi Arabia, told us more about the medical technologies being adopted in the Saudi healthcare sector.
Khan explained that Saudi Arabia’s bold vision means that it is often an early adopter of advanced medical technologies. This includes artificial intelligence (AI) systems for diagnostics, telemedicine platforms for remote patient care, and precision medicine initiatives for personalised treatment. Furthermore, the country is investing in robotics, automation technologies in surgery and patient care, and digital health records systems for improved data management.
Saudi government’s support in research and development
The Vision 2030 plan emphasises the importance of healthcare innovation and has led to significant investment in the sector. Moreover, the government provides funding opportunities for healthcare research and encourages collaborations between Saudi universities and international research institutions. It also supports establishing and growing health-focused start-ups through business-friendly policies and incubator programmes.
“The Kingdom’s support for healthcare research and development is second to none, as witnessed through a variety of recent initiatives,” Khan said.
The advantage of AI-driven technology
AI-driven diagnostics will be a game-changer for Saudi citizens and residents alike. There are a multitude of benefits, though the most evident and impactful one will be to improve accuracy and efficiency. Khan explained that AI can analyse complex medical data much quicker than humans, leading to faster diagnosis and treatment. It can also recognise patterns and anomalies that may be overlooked by human practitioners, potentially improving diagnostic accuracy. Additionally, AI can facilitate remote diagnostics, improving access to healthcare services in rural or underserved areas.
He added that precision medicine is a critical facet of the future care model, and incorporating it into the Saudi Arabian healthcare system could greatly enhance treatment efficacy and patient outcomes. Precision medicine involves tailoring treatments based on an individual’s genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. This personalised approach can lead to more effective treatments, fewer side effects, and better patient compliance. It could also lead to advancements in preventive care by the early identification of individuals at high risk of certain diseases, which, therefore, facilitates timely intervention.
This article appears in the latest issue of the Omnia Health Magazine, read more here