Electronic Health Records (EHR) can make healthcare data more accessible
EHR is identified as a key Vision 2030 goal for the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Saudi Arabia. The value that unification of health records brings ranges from the identification of health trends at the level of an entire population, to more precise diagnosis, treatment and after care for individual patients.
Integration of Artificial Intelligence into the healthcare system
The report shows that by implementing AI, healthcare professionals can focus more on providing valuable, personalized care. For example, AI has demonstrated 99% accuracy and has shown to be 30 times faster than humans in reviewing and interpreting mammograms, enabling the earlier detection of breast cancer. Examples have also been put forward where the large amounts of data is translated into functional tools offering greater insights for preventative care and overall health management of patients. As of 2016, Saudi Arabia spent $0.1 per capita on Artificial intelligence in preliminary diagnosis.
Telehealth can help increase care for patients and improve caregiver satisfaction
The report suggests that with a more data-driven and connected approach to healthcare delivery, the future of healthcare is no longer tied to a particular location or structure.
Telehealth is the use of electronic information, connected care and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinician-to-clinician information exchange, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. It can extend health care’s reach to unserved or remote areas by connecting physicians faster allowing for quicker diagnosis and expertise to break free from the geographical binds.
While a large proportion of healthcare professionals in Saudi Arabia are already using connected care technologies, there is room for growth in how healthcare professionals are using telehealth services to communicate not only with their patients, but also with each other to collaborate on diagnoses and treatment.
According to the FHI, 82% of healthcare professionals in Saudi Arabia reported using connected care technologies in the diagnosis of conditions, and 61% use connected care technologies for the treatment of conditions. Using these technologies to promote collaboration in these areas could benefit both patients and healthcare professionals.
The Saudi Arabian MoH is already addressing ways to engage providers and the population in telehealth. In 2016, it conducted a study to better understand barriers and the positions of key decision makers. More recently, in alignment with Vision 2030, MoH announced Seha, an e-health app for patient-physician consultations Kingdom wide.
This slow rate of adoption is also evidenced by World Health Organization (WHO) figures, which indicate that only 22% of countries have national telehealth policies. Additionally, only 31% of the countries surveyed for the FHI have clearly defined rules governing the collection, protection and sharing of data. Yet these policy decisions are essential precursors to national telehealth initiatives.
In the first FHI report earlier this year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia scores amongst the highest in efficiency, and across several factors that evaluate the value of Saudi Arabia’s healthcare offers. An efficiency score of 44.17 is particularly strong, rising over 17 points above the 16-country average, and coming in just behind Singapore (50.11), indicating healthcare spend is being effectively utilized relative to health outcomes. Saudi Arabia has made investments in data collection, however, there is still a need for growth as the country falls below the 16-country average across data collection & analytics metrics. 92% of healthcare professionals and 75% of the general population believe that technological integration would make the quality of care better.
 World Bank. (2016).