State of FM healthcare in Saudi Arabia

It appears the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia has yet to embrace a holistic approach to its FM requirements

COMMENT, Facilities Management, FM, Healthcare, KSA, Saudi Arabia

The company I work for, DTZ Saudi Arabia, is very fortunate to have a number of healthcare sector clients. However, based on our experience to date and somewhat surprisingly, it would appear that the healthcare sector has yet to embrace a holistic approach to its FM requirements.

Here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the foremost industry accreditations are Joint Commission International (JCI) and Central Board for Accreditation of Healthcare Institutions (CBAHI), both of which require the aspirant facility to demonstrate, “The extent of their compliance with quality and safety in regard to patient standards”.

This is a requirement which I believe would be readily evident through the application of sound FM practices and methodologies. In fact, CBAHI part III (standards) chapter 23 is dedicated to facility management & safety, and provides an excellent framework for the aspirant institution to follow.

Given this backdrop, in an industry sector where the standards delivered can literally make the difference between life and death, one would assume there would be a clear case for the healthcare provider to accept and adopt the principles which underpin facilities management and differentiate from basic operations and maintenance, yet, this still doesn’t seem to be the case.

So why does this paradox exist? Based upon our experience to date, we would suggest that there are three primary reasons. Firstly, Saudi Arabia continues to be a ‘cost driven’ FM market, with the procurement processes followed by the client constantly focused upon today’s ‘best price’ for individual items or service lines in ignorance—or perhaps in denial—of the ‘bigger picture’, which would undoubtedly give the client a better long-term solution for its facility.

Equally as important, however, is the responsibility for delivering the various ‘FM service lines’. It tends to be dispersed across a middle management layer of the organisation rather than being a centralised function. It can be seen that this approach carries the potential and risk of specific requirements falling between the cracks if internal communication isn’t effective.

Lastly, in more mature markets, we are used to each facility having a ‘non clinical director’ a board position with overall responsibility for the effective delivery of all support services, including facilities management. Here in Saudi Arabia, in many instances, this position does not seem to have been introduced, so it can be seen that the same risks we identified at middle management level are also possible at board level.

So how will things change? I recognise that in Saudi Arabia, the provision of healthcare services is generally a business and like all businesses it must make a profit in order to survive and flourish. Our job as FM professionals is to continue to educate the client of the hidden costs of the current approach and the benefits of what we would propose: a well thought through and implemented operational delivery strategy which will achieve accreditation standards today and preserve the long term value of both the asset and the business as a whole.

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