The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health has been given the task of reinventing their current offering into the world’s leading, modern healthcare system providing cost effective, equal and high-quality healthcare to its 33 million citizens. Sweden was identified as a potential core partner and Business Sweden was a key facilitator over the five-year process which has resulted in close collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Skåne Care, owned by the southernmost region of Sweden.
Skåne Care is at the forefront of collaborative working with the gulf nation to create a healthcare system that is both operationally and strategically robust but also meets the current and future health needs of a changing population.
One critical aspect of this collaboration is a programme which immerses Saudi doctors and dentists into the Swedish healthcare system with a goal of educating them to specialist level. This programme requires a long-term commitment by the doctor to not only become a specialist, but to learn a new language in a foreign country to achieve this goal. With the first doctor graduating this year, the long-term commitment and collaboration is beginning to reap rewards.
Skåne Care’s CEO Mikael Rosén, explains:
“Skåne Care is breaking new ground in the business segment of healthcare export, we create both societal and financial value to the public healthcare sector. The Swedish healthcare model has a global reputation for being trustworthy and delivering exceptional care and outcomes. International doctors could go to countries like the UK, US or Canada, but they are willing to cross the language barrier to come to Sweden."Working in collaboration with the government through the Ministry of Health provides their leaders with access to the extensive Swedish healthcare evidence and best practice – both the success and the failures. Our consultants present the operational and practical application of evidence-based approaches and the Saudi authorities can adopt and fine tune these to local needs.
This best-practice sharing, and education programme is complemented by a wider strategic government-to-government partnership that is providing the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health with insights and guidance on how to build a sustainable health service for the future.
The future of healthcare in Saudi Arabia is being transformed from a centralised system to accountable care organisations. The changing demographics and health needs of an ageing population means the demands on healthcare provision are shifting. There is an increasing need for preventative approaches, education and efficient and effective treatment pathways for major non-communicable diseases. Conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer are rapidly rising, and the current healthcare structure is unable to adequately cope with patient numbers and demands.
Mikael Rosén says:
“Working in collaboration with the government through the Ministry of Health provides their leaders with access to the extensive Swedish healthcare evidence and best practice – both the success and the failures. Our consultants present the operational and practical application of evidence-based approaches and the Saudi authorities can adopt and fine tune these to local needs.
“Our consultants in Riyadh work directly with executive leaders of the healthcare transformation programme on a national level. But healthcare is an ecosystem where everything must come together to work. The Swedish model is not going to work 100% in a Saudi context so our role is to help them navigate and apply solutions that will work with patient and doctor behaviour while also strategically shifting the approach.”
The journey to becoming a preferred supplier has been long but Skåne Care were able to utilise Business Sweden’s expertise and access to help build programmes and aligning agendas on Swedish healthcare collaborations. This has been supported by attendance on delegations which have connected the company with ministerial stakeholders on both the Swedish and Saudi Arabian sides which has built a strong foundation for collaboration.
Partnership working must take into consideration cultural similarities and differences, Mikael Rosén concludes:
“Both Swedes and Saudis expect a high level of healthcare, and for the government to take an active role in providing that care. Being at the heart of that delivery takes commitment and the need to build up trust. Being physically located in the country you are partnering with is critical, you meet the right people, build relationships and earn trust. That trust ultimately leads to a long-term working partnership built on trusted expertise.”
About Skåne Care
Skåne Care is a publicly owned company, owned by regional council of Skåne. Formed in 2008, its mission and task are to provide healthcare solutions to the export market through education and training programmes and strategic operational and practical expertise and consultancy. They advise clients on transforming national models, processes and patient flows based on Swedish healthcare best practice.
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