Delivering value in the evolving Saudi Arabia healthcare system
31 January 2024
Healthcare is a key national strategic priority as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. This article focuses on the steps that should be taken at each phase of development to make sure that new infrastructure delivers value at every stage of its lifecycle.
The health sector transformation program aims to improve access to healthcare, modernise facilities and equipment, and enhance the role of private sector investment to make sure the healthcare system can meet the needs of every member of society.
There are four key areas of focus:
- To improve access to healthcare
- To improve the value of healthcare
- To strengthen prevention, and
- To improve traffic safety
The first three of these areas are dependent on having a healthcare infrastructure and built environment that is fit-for-purpose, for the present and the future needs of the population.
A program of work focused on the development of the local healthcare infrastructure has been brought forward. This aims to increase capacity in both the public and private sectors, to bring bed numbers in the acute sector up to international benchmarks, and to modernise the existing estate.
As part of ensuring that the healthcare provision is fit-for-purpose, a pipeline of Private Sector Participation (PSP) investment opportunities in new infrastructure has been published (https://www.ncp.gov.sa/ar/Pages/ProjectsInPipeline.aspx) that includes:
- New hospitals
- New primary healthcare facilities
- New community and social care facilities
- Healthcare related accommodation
- New diagnostic and laboratory facilities and
- Academic and medical research facilities
Saudi Arabia currently has 78,000 beds in circa 500 hospitals where the private sector provides approximately 40% of the current capacity. By 2030, it is planned for the private sector to manage 60% of the healthcare market. There are approximately 8,200 beds planned, along with increases in community, long-term condition and rehabilitation facilities. It is anticipated that a further 20,000 beds will be needed by 2035 to meet the needs of the ageing and growing population.
These facilities will provide a foundation for improving access to healthcare and strengthening preventative care. It is critical though that these facilities deliver value over the life of the asset. The cost of ownership (operations, maintenance, utilities, heating and cooling) may be up to nine fold the initial design and construction cost.
Investing in healthcare and FM planning at the outset of a project will help improve efficiency in patient care, facility maintenance and operational running costs. It requires minimal investment, yet can significantly reduce the long-term total cost of ownership.
Achieving these outcomes starts at the project concept stage and requires a rigorous approach to seeking value throughout the development of the project. This includes the brief, design, tender, construction, commissioning and operating phases.
Ensuring New Infrastructure Delivers Value
The following considerations need to be taken at each stage of a development regardless of the contracting approach taken (PSP, packages or design build). Doing so will make sure that value remains a focus and that the facilities delivered meet the needs of the current and future populations.