How Saudi Arabia plans to improve healthcare access in rural areas

Royal Philips partners with the Saudi Telecom Company to rollout telehealth solutions powered by artifical intelligence in the Gulf kingdom
How Saudi Arabia plans to improve healthcare access in rural areas
Phillips said advanced clinical software tools will support the monitoring and surveillance of up to 150 patients by one provider and 35 patients by one nurse.
By Sam Bridge
Sat 25 May 2019 12:17 AM

Royal Philips, a global healthcare technology firm, is partnering with the Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to rollout telehealth solutions powered by artifical intelligence in the Gulf kingdom.

The companies said the move could transform the ability to diagnose and treat patients in remote and rural areas in Saudi Arabia.

A statement said the telehealth solutions provided by Philips allow hospitals and clinics anywhere in the country to be connected to command centres, through which doctors in other locations can treat patients remotely.

Riyadh Muawadh, enterprise senior vice president at STC, said: “We know that limited access to adequate ICT infrastructure is the biggest technological barrier to realising telehealth solutions for disadvantaged and underserved communities.

"Spanning all corners of the country, our network is a key piece of the jigsaw puzzle in providing better access, higher quality and more cost effective care to all residents of the kingdom and helping healthcare professionals in all locations feel confident and empowered in their day to day working lives.”

With healthcare in Saudi Arabia free to all Saudi residents and expatriate workers in the public sector, national healthcare financing is under strain from rapid demographic changes, an increase in sedentary lifestyles, rising costs, increasing user expectations, and changing disease patterns.

Phillips said the cost efficiencies brought by telehealth solutions are therefore key, with advanced clinical software tools that support the monitoring and surveillance of up to 150 patients by one provider and 35 patients by one nurse.

Ozlem Fidanci, Philips CEO Middle East and Turkey, added: “Access to care and quality of care always comes with an effort in remote areas, and is compounded by the preference of many healthcare professionals to develop their careers in main cities. A key challenge is attracting and retaining Saudi talent to the healthcare sector, in line with Vision 2030’s aim to add around 100,000 Saudi jobs.

"With access to technologies such as artifical intelligence and machine learning, telehealth enables healthcare facilities to better use their existing staff resources, supporting young doctors to make decisions and benchmarking the quality of care given against levels set by the world’s best healthcare providers.”

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