Building infrastructure for IoT services in Saudi Arabia’s health sector


Mobily has a major role in building the required infrastructure to enable internet of things services and devices in healthcare services, says Mohammad Alrehaili, executive general manager of government & key sales at Mobily.

Leading health experts from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia convened for a fireside chat at the HIMSS & Health 2.0 Middle East Digital Event to discuss how the creation of the digital workplace is feeding into delivering the healthcare ambitions of the Saudi Vision 2030 in the session, ‘Creating the Digital Workplace – Breaking the Status Quo! Views from the Top.’

The speakers were Khalid Alodhaibi, medical service directorate, Saudi Arabia Ministry of Defence, Fahad AlHussein, group chief information technology officer MENA, Saudi German Hospitals Group and Dr Amr Jamal, National Health Informatics Scientific Committee, Saudi Commission for Health Specialities, chairman of Family and Community Medicine Department, King Saud University.

The digital transformation of Saudi Arabia’s health system and the implementation of digital health solutions has been a strategic priority for many years, leading to hospitals and healthcare centres operating as sophisticated digital workplaces. The session covered how the creation of digital workplaces is supporting the delivery of both the Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Programme, and updated viewers on the progress of the digital transformation of hospitals and primary care centres across the Kingdom.


Alodhaibi began the session with a presentation on the centralised solution adopted by the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Defence: “Rabet is centralised unified EHR that we started about almost two years and a half ago. We have a fully-fledged solution suite from Cerner.

“We’re fortunate to partner up with one of their top tier technology and solutions. The spectrum of the implementation is huge. It’s not something that we could take lightly or expect it to be delivered shortly. There is a lot of complexity in it,” added Alodhaibi.
Elements for successful workplace change

The panel then highlighted that introducing change through new digital solutions has the potential to bring resistance from the workforce. On ways to remedy this, Alodhaibi presented five elements for successful change: “Awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforce.

“For awareness, this is people asking, what is this change and why are we implementing it? In addition, why do we need to implement or change? What’s the risk if we do not make this change?

“For the desire, people will tend to ask, what’s in it for me? And for knowledge, do I have the right tools?

“Very important is basically how you’re going to maintain this change. We agreed on changing one of the workflows or clinical pathways, according to clinical best practices. People need to know the change that has happened, and how we’re going to maintain it, and keep this successful.”

On how to achieve this, Alodhaibi states: “Communication is very, very important. “We feel that whenever we make a statement or deliver a message, that people will understand this the way we think it’s been delivered throughout the lifespan of this project.”

Making COVID-19 an opportunity

Alodhaibi also revealed the impact the pandemic had on the workings of the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Defence: “We turned COVID into an opportunity. We thought that the clinical activities were so low, almost none in 2020, so we use this as a good time to go live with the solution.

On how the Ministry of Defence measured the success of the transformation and workforce engagement, Alodhaibi conceded: “I wouldn’t claim that we have reached the full potential. People are complaining about the system and have said that it adds more work to healthcare providers.

“We understand this and as much as we love them, we do also love patients. As we get more progress to this, they will realise and we would realise our full potential and benefit,” explains Alodhaibi.

The next big innovation

When asked about the next big innovation they foresee taking flight in 2021, Dr Jamal said: “There are many, especially now since we’ve learned a lot from the pandemic.

“To ease access to healthcare, we should especially be using digital solutions for research innovations, technologies and innovation dimensions to AI, and big data analytics. This is especially for innovations that will shorten the time of getting access to the service. For example, the AI-enabled chatbot that we now have.

“These innovations are evolving more and more and empowering consumers, patients and caregivers.”