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Al-Hammadi Hospitals Company has established itself as one of the most progressive medical service providers in the Middle East with its latest foray into ICT assisted services. The contracts, with Cisco and Wipro, which were officiated in 2014, marked the formalization of a transformation process that had commenced years ago and set to continue for several more to come. The hospital has had a heritage of almost three decades years and over the course of the last one, it has become highly reputable in the Kingdom for providing state of the art healthcare services (“Al-Hammadi Development,” 2014). Consequently, the deals with CISCO and Wipro were instrumental in helping the organization to upgrade its services in line with its mandate of consistent positive adjustments. In addition to improving the quality of patient care, the organization’s adaptation of technological solutions has also contributed to cutting overhead costs and enhancing safety. The following study found that the ICT transformation has been successful in improving the quality of service delivery in the organization, despite the presence of several challenges.
The study found that, with a history of nearly 30 years, the Al Hammadi Company has cultivated an excellent tradition in Saudi Arabia, where it is renowned for quality services and first-class facilities. The organization commenced the installation of systems such as the private health cloud so they could ensure security and ease of access to medical records for patients, irrespective of which facility they visited (“Al-Hammadi Development,” 2014). So far, the solutions have proven to be very effective in streamlining the quality of services offered. Although many of the changes are still in their implementation stages, the integration of data, voice as well as mobility tools have drastically reduced the probability of human error. Moreover, they are now recognized as one of the trendsetters in terms of ICT implementation in the region because of their aggressive and proactive strategy.
Admittedly, it was not possible to obtain very detailed figures of the extent to which the transformations have succeeded since many of them are long term and still in their implementation stages, however, the company’s prospectus shows noteworthy improvements. Case in point, between the year 2011 and 2013, the number of deals carried out by the Al Hammadi foundation for information technology increased from, 965,534 to 1,605,974 (“Al Hammadi Company”, 2013). Overall, this is a testament to the high uptake of technology by the organization, especially since the figures are expected to go up during the course of the present year. Furthermore, the hospital’s administration and medical support teams have better and faster access to various health-related data, given that the CISCO technology allows the servers to support 1500 VDI sessions using Windows 7 32 bit PCs. Consequently, the hospitals have more control over the data on their servers and they do not need to depend on PCs to store data (“Al Hammadi Company”, 2013).
Consequently, Al Hammadi hospitals are gradually making their way to the top of the healthcare industry in the country and their ICT adaptation has seen them ranked among the top 10 hospitals in the Kingdom. Based on their current growth projections, in the long term, they will be able to control numerous processes in their sector in addition to de-escalating their costs, while at the same time leveraging on the infrastructure on the ground. Considering that, the American Hospital Association (AHA) recognizes Cisco’s healthcare solution, its implementation by the Al-Hammadi hospitals can be attributed to the marked increase in the number of foreign patients. Today, the hospitals operate under a higher alertness rate than has been witnessed in the field previously. They have the capacity to access notifications and safeguards that assist them to make real-time decisions and control the flow of work and patients. Ergo, using the new technology, both the clinical and business parameters are regularly monitored, which ultimately contributes to the hospital’s overall efficacy.
Challenges and barriers
However, despite the apparent success rate, there have been several challenges hindering a smooth transformation. For example, the shift to online systems requires constant and reliable access to the internet, which calls for highly competent ISPs. While uptake of internet services has been relatively high in the Middle East, there have been some challenges owing to the fact that some of the Telkom service providers have been found to be unreliable. Their services are characterized by repeated downtime and network failure, which could potentially have fatal implications in a hospital setting that is designed to function with online systems. In addition, many of the professionals in the hospital, especially the older ones are not entirely comfortable with the changes. Some feel it is too risky putting all the information in a network, which is, after all, vulnerable to third party access and could compromise the security of data. Moreover, there are those who feel edgy about the prospect of integrating technology into their day-to-day practices because of their conservative nature. Nevertheless, the hospital has invested and continues to invest even more funds and time in facilitating a smooth transition through training and orientation programs.
Another key challenge is the absence of sufficiently qualified labor, especially among the locals. While the majority of the Saudi population is young and relatively educated, there is a notable trend where many companies are dependent on foreign staff especially for the technical workforce (Achoui, 2009). As a result, they end up spending a lot of money on importing skilled labor, which is considerably more expensive to hire than if it were locals. The hospital is, however, collaborating with its ICT partners to train some of their workforces in-house and there are expectations that in the coming years, they will have affordable and highly skilled staff to operate the systems. In the same way, some hospital staff was reluctant to work in an ICT dominated environment, and some of the patients are finding it hard to accept the idea. To reassure them, the ICT administrators have been working to ensure the technology implementation process is gradual and all the steps are thoroughly audited prior to application. In addition, the integration of technology into standard practice is done as seamlessly as possible, so that, patients do not find anything outwardly different, except for increased efficiency levels.
In the end, while conceding that the transformation is still an ongoing process, so far, there have been significant improvements in the organization’s service delivery in terms of general clinical and administrative competence. The trend is expected to continue as more of the changes in the multi-billion budget are implemented with the assistance of various local and international partners. Ultimately, the study concludes that the organization’s current projectile concerning ICT will positively influence the attainment of its goal of continuous improvement and efficacy in patient care. Furthermore, they appear poised to set the pace for both the medical and other industries in the Middle East region.
Achoui, M. M. (2009). Human resource development in Gulf countries: an analysis of the trends and challenges facing Saudi Arabia. Human Resource Development International, 12(1), 35-46.
Al Hammadi Company for development investment. (2013) Prospectus. Web.
Al-Hammadi Development and Investment Company launch three state of the art medical facilities powered by Cisco’s and Wipro’s latest technologies. (2014). AME info. Web.