The role of the private sector in transcending Saudi Arabia's medical landscape

Insights by Dr. Ayman Mohamed, Analyst - Healthcare & Life Sciences, Consulting – MENA at JLL

May 10, 2024

The article highlights the progressive expansion trends steered by private healthcare companies within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Embedded within the framework of Saudi’s health sector transformation program that aims to enhance healthcare accessibility, modernize facilities, and foster a more integrated system through strategic Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), the private sector is effectively embarking on a transformative journey. With the Kingdom increasing the healthcare industry’s contribution to the GDP by 26% between the years 2013-2022, the indispensable role of the private sector fueled by the increasing involvement of key players such as Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib, Fakeeh Care Group, Dallah Healthcare Company, Middle East Healthcare Company, and Nahdi Medical Company, has become more evident today than ever. Recent data from the Ministry of Investment illustrates a significant trend with the private sector accounting for an impressive 53% of healthcare investments. This capital influx into the private healthcare sphere has brought about a notable increase from ~16,000 private hospital beds in 2015 to ~18,000 private hospital beds in 2022 across the kingdom. 

Moreover, the healthcare sector is undergoing an ambitious transformation as part of Vision 2030, through the NTP and Privatization Program aiming for:

  • Corporatization will provide the highest quality of care.

  • Increase the private sector’s contribution from 40 % to 65 % of GDP.

  • Increase the average life expectancy from 74 to 80 years.

The MoH strategic objectives go hand in hand with Private Sector Participation (PSP) to improve services provided by undergoing the following:

  • Increase Private Sector contribution.

  • Increase access to healthcare services.

  • Enhance Efficiency in Healthcare Delivery

  • Improve Quality of Care

  • Enhance Financial sustainability.

  • Ensure readiness for the new Model of Care and ACO (Accountable Care Organizations)

Private healthcare facilities have begun to break the concentration in central cities, extending their networks into the peripheries, thereby bridging the gap in healthcare access in suburban and rural areas. From Makkah to Madinah, Taif to the recently developed King Abdulaziz Economic City, the geographical boundaries of premium healthcare are being redrawn by the private sector, making room for more patients, and significantly reducing waiting times.

An important aspect of this expansion also includes investments in telemedicine, which has already been adopted by more than 83% of private hospitals to provide teleconsultation services, thus further improving healthcare access and retailing its quality. A notable success story in the telemedicine scene is done by Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Group offering virtual clinics that enable patients to receive medical consultation services from the comfort of their homes. Private healthcare companies opting for digitalization and expanding their services on a digital level is in line with the government’s SEHA program upholding the future probability of private facilities’ integration within the network.


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The drive to enhance healthcare quality is ingrained in the private sector's growth aims, with numerous state-of-the-art upgrades to infrastructure, technology, equipment, and clinical capabilities across the board. These institutions have also raised the bar by employing highly skilled professionals, making advanced medical treatments previously exclusive to foreign lands readily available within the country.

Private healthcare providers in Saudi Arabia have also not held back in exploring the frontiers of health sciences either. They've been actively promoting innovative research and development projects, partnering with reputed universities, and engaging in knowledge exchange for collective benefit. Batterjee Medical College (Riyadh), Fakeeh Medical College (Jeddah) and Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Virtual Academy are good examples of this. Through this, they are continually introducing novel treatment methods and enhancing their preventive practice.

Large private healthcare groups now offer holistic services that cover extended care, medical education, medical supplies, IT, construction, and infrastructure development alongside their main care services. This can be vividly seen by major key players in the market such as:

This all-round growth is reflected in the broader economy as well, with the sector creating jobs and contributing significantly to national development.

The government-private sector synergy has been a key factor in bringing about comprehensive healthcare reforms, leveraging combined resources to implement new policies and strategies.

The government has shown great confidence in the private sector capacities and is also making probes to steamroll innovations. The inclusion of primary care clinics within pharmacies, grocery as well as retail stores is one such initiative gaining momentum, with Nahdi Medical Company taking the lead.

Moreover, the growth of KSA's Healthtech ecosystem is being significantly stimulated by both domestic and international private businesses, especially in the diagnostics field.

In essence, the crucial play of the private sector in revolutionizing Saudi Arabia's healthcare landscape has resulted in considerable advancements. Investments in infrastructure, implementation of cutting-edge technologies, emphases on quality care, and encouraging innovative approaches have not just improved healthcare access and enhanced quality but also spurred economic growth. As Saudi Arabia progresses toward Vision 2030, the partnership between the private sector and the government will continue to lay the foundation for a healthcare system that caters to the evolving needs of the population.

Contact Ayman Mohamed

Analyst, Healthcare Consulting

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