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Saudi Arabia’s E-Health Plans Bank on Other Nations’ Failure
Source: futuregov.asia
Source Date: Thursday, November 11, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: Saudi Arabia
Created: Nov 11, 2010

In order for Saudi Arabia’s e-healthcare plans to succeed, there is a need to understand where other nations have failed. So says Mohammed Alyemeni, Advisor to the Minister of Health and General Supervisor of ICT, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s five-year project, which is the largest healthcare technology project ever attempted in the nation, is looking to incorporate elements addressing quality of care, cost containment, health system management and research needs.

Alyemeni commented: “Our ambitious plans will build on the pioneering e-health advancements from many developed countries, and enable the Kingdom to provide a new generation of healthcare services to meet the accelerating expectations of its residents.”

“Key to our success is to understand where other nations have failed and how we can avoid these costly errors,” he added.

With an annual population growth rate of 2.4 per cent—higher than the global average growth rate of 1.17 percent—Saudi Arabia is under pressure to bolster its healthcare services. In 2009, the country’s total healthcare expenditure amounted to $US16.7 billion, a 26.5 per cent increase from the 2008’s expenditure of $US13.2 billion.

In addition, the number of public and private hospitals in the country stands at more than 400 currently, and is projected to increase to around 500 by 2013.

It was unclear which countries Alyemeni would be referring to as examples of e-health flops, but a Middle Eastern healthcare facility specialist noted: “The economic downturn has created mistrust between developing and developed nations. So developing countries are liberated to criticise the developed countries’ experiences. The United States is a good example.”

Research firm Gartner highlights the Netherlands’ National IT Institute for Healthcare’s Record Locator programme as a key case study of a failed e-health programme. The programme attempted to connected hospitals with pharmacies, but clinicians opposed the move over data security fears.

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