A 2014 study by Alpen Capital projected that the healthcare industry in the GCC was set to grow by 12.0% per annum to US$ 69.4 billion by 2018- up from an estimated US$ 39.4 billion in 2013. Augmented by a rising population and higher life expectancy, both healthcare demand and projects in the pipeline have increased, making this a particularly exciting time for the healthcare industry in the region- but one that is wrought with challenges. As a result, the role and responsibility of the healthcare CEO has become increasingly multi-dimensional. Already complex, effective management of healthcare delivery nowadays not only requires that a leader possess a myriad of talents and skill sets- but also needs to take into account regulatory obstacles, standards and industry-specific factors.
The demand for an increased portfolio of skills and experience is fueled by the expanding needs of large, complicated systems. Today’s healthcare CEO has to possess far more specialized knowledge about the day-to-day operations of the professionals they manage than did the leadership generation before them. At the same time they need to have the same strong, general business acumen that has been part of the skill set possessed for years by their counterparts in other industries.
For instance, in the GCC, there is currently a high dependence on expatriates for trained medical staff (nurses, doctors, and administrators). Figures vary, but this is anywhere between 40-80% of the total workforce in the sector. As a result, today’s CEO needs to deal with operational issues such as talent retention, training, and quality standards. In addition, as GCC governments continue to spend millions of dollars on healthcare imports each year due to lack of sufficient services, regional CEO’s will need to work with the relevant authorities to ease this burden and encourage more local participation in the sector.
The healthcare CEO will also need to be aware of sector trends and regulatory developments. The industry is gradually transitioning and is looking to increase investments in digital health to solve the triumvirate of healthcare challenges (improve quality, improve access, and decrease cost). Healthcare IT expenditure in the region is growing with a variety of technologies from tele-medicine to online patient records being adopted- and this is expected to hit US$ 551 million by the end of 2015, up from US$444 million in 2011. In addition, with the full implementation of insurance and accreditation requirements by local governments, laboratories and healthcare systems across the region have begun to consolidate and merge. Whilst both of these are exciting developments, they each present their own set of unique challenges: with the former for instance, security risks must be carefully examined, and the industry must be prepared for issues such as device incompatibility, insider data loss and hacking/exposed data.
To be continued….
Article by Robin Singleton, Managing Partner of DHR’s Healthcare Services & Solutions Practice Group & Ayman Haddad, Managing Partner, DHR Middle East & Africa