Saudi Arabia: Healthcare and IT spending projected to increase in 2013

The parallel developments in healthcare and IT are expected to open up major opportunities
By Dillan Yogendra
08:18 AM

Healthcare spend in Saudi Arabia is expected to rise to SR98 billion, a 10.3% increase over the SR88.9 billion spent in 2012, with further increases expected into the future. The government has announced that major projects involving healthcare, along with other key sectors such as education among others, will get additional funding and strong governmental focus during the coming months. At the same time, the Kingdom's IT expenditure is projected to increase by around 6.6% to SR15.3 billion.

The parallel developments in healthcare and IT are expected to open up major opportunities in healthcare-related cloud computing adoption and investments in smart systems, to name but a few technology-related advancements across the medical sector.

It has been reported that more IT systems, equipment and services are needed to sustain the local and regional healthcare boom, and that Saudi Arabia as a nation is well-positioned to leverage technology to optimize national healthcare capabilities given its status as the largest information and communications technology (ICT) market in the Gulf – keeping pace with the global trend of highlighting IT solutions to achieve development in various fields across the healthcare arena.

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In order to maintain a healthcare facilities network, the Saudi government has implemented a two-tier health service plan. Tier 1 includes a network of primary healthcare centers and clinics established throughout the Kingdom. These clinics and centers are then supported by a further network of secondary care hospitals and specialized treatment facilities (Tier 2) located mainly in major urban areas across the country. Certain leading global eHealth companies have introduced a number of scalable technology products and solutions that continue to enhance the quality and extent of healthcare across the Kingdom.

Thomas Reitmayr, Vice President – Business Development, CGM, one such provider, discussed the opportunities: “There are several elements that are driving the growth of IT healthcare solutions in the Kingdom, such as a large and affluent population that is willing to support the adoption of leading medical systems and practices, a robust ICT sector, and increasing government focus on improving the quality of life of residents and citizens. Industry should capitalize on such an ideal environment to boost IT healthcare research and development and strive to sustain the growth of this important niche segment.”

Mehmet Bilginsoy, General Manager, added: “Numerous factors indicate that the Saudi healthcare sector will continue with its rapid growth in the coming years, the most telling of which is the growing desire among the current population to improve their well being. With surging healthcare demand, strong government support, a robust economy and a thriving ICT community, the Kingdom is right on track to become a regional and global leader in IT healthcare systems development and adoption as well.”

Integrated hospital information management systems, clinical information systems and mobile applications will also be key going forward.

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