NEW REPORT: 6 Ways to Improve Healthcare in the GCC


Fraser Clarke

A new white paper has identified six areas within the Gulf’s healthcare sector that need to be improved.

Published this week by Bahrain based ‘Investcorp’, the report studies the healthcare sector in each Gulf Cooperation Country (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman) and identified the shared areas where development is needed.

We’ve highlighted their key findings.

Focus 1 - Wellness and Prevention
•GCC Countries are spending between $31 and $131 per person on preventative care
•This needs to be upped to around $450 to meet European levels
•With diabetes rates soaring, preventative care could reduce the cost of the condition by 25%
•And reduce the number of people living with the condition by 50%

What do Investcorp recommend?
•Improving lifestyles to target the related issues
•Promotion of screening campaigns and regular check-ups
•Development of primary care

Focus 2 - Specialisation
•After focusing on developing scale, a focus should now be put on attracting more niche specialists
•Not only would this help the region, it would also attract more medical tourists
•There is a particular shortage in growing areas, like mental health support and geriatrics
•A lack of ‘centres of excellence’ focused on a small number of areas

What do Investcorp recommend?
•Creating incentive schemes to attract investors to more specialist areas
•Developing partnerships with Western centres of excellence
•The creation of more medical cities in the region
•Stopping the licensing of small generalist hospitals

Focus 3 - Consolidation and Scale
•Fix issues caused by a fragmented system
•The top five private groups in Saudi make up just 25% of beds in the Kingdom
•Larger groups controlling more can help to cut costs
•Larger groups growing should also allow more specialist care

What do Investcorp recommend?
•Giving the greenlight to more mergers throughout the region
•Increase standards in Labs
•Support the emergence of large scale players

Focus 4 - Privatisation
•All Governments are helping to increase the role played by private sectors
•The mandation of private health insurance in the private sector is a good sign
•It should be a progressive transition like has been the case in Abu Dhabi

What do Investcorp recommend?
•The introduction of more techniques used elsewhere to increase efficiency
•Outsourcing non-medical areas
•Developing more public/private partnerships

Focus 5 - Incentivisation
•The growth of costs has lead to campaigns that incentivise good behaviour 
•In North America these have reduced costs by 17%
•This could be vital as pressure increases on the economy post oil-boom

What do Investcorp recommend?
•The introduction of more sophisticated payment systems
•Insurers should own, or partially control the healthcare providers, to provide integrated care
•Stricter regulation is needed to crack down on unethical practices that still take place

Focus 6 - Cooperation
•Attempts so far at building centres of excellence have produced mixed results
•Make the sector more attractive to expat talent, by introducing close partnerships to the West
•Make it easier for non-GCC physicians to travel and work in the region, without needing separate visas and licenses

What do Investcorp recommend?
•Ramping up the GCC’s purchasing powers program
•Linking purchasing in the Emirates, where all seven currently buy separately resulting in higher costs
•Joint planning and funding for major developments, such as investing in proton beam therapy centres

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