Healthcare in Saudi Arabia

Improving healthcare through Service Design

The shift to more patient-centered healthcare is happening all over the world and our long legacy of people-driven innovation and design within the healthcare sector, provides unique opportunities to work among various cultures, situations and environments. Together with management consulting firm Araamis we explored the complex challenges and opportunities around healthcare in Saudi Arabia.

One major element of the patient-centered vision is to effectively receive and handle patient opinions and comments. After all, it’s through patient voices that true opportunities for improvement can be identified. His Excellency the Minister of Health of Saudi Arabia saw the need for an overhauled system that, by taking patient opinions into consideration throughout the country’s hospitals, would better harness opportunities and lower complaint rates by meeting previously undocumented expectations.

Working on a global scale is both fun and a challenge, as you have to learn to see things from other peoples’ perspectives, be comfortable working far away from home, and be able to quickly understand systems that don’t work in the way you’re used to.

Siamak Tahmoresnia, Veryday

The first part of the project focused on research both within Saudi Arabia and abroad — in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Sweden, China and Singapore. We wanted not only to understand the issues at hand in Saudi Arabia, but also to gain inspiration from existing systems that work well in other countries around the world. Our team of researchers visited several hospitals in different Saudi Arabian cities to gain a thorough understanding of needs from the perspective of patients, doctors, social workers and other hospital employees. Influential stakeholders such as the Minister of Health, ministry advisors and hospital management were also engaged in the process to ensure that all relevant decision-makers were on board and every aspect of the situation was uncovered.

You [Veryday] are certainly not the first consultancy approaching us and trying to solve our problems, but you are the first and only one who has actually involved us in the development rather than just observing us and then dumping a solution on us…. This has been one of the best working weeks of my life. Thank you.

Patient Rights and Relations Manager, King Saud Medical City, Riyadh

Prototyping in a hospital environment is difficult since interacting with doctors and nurses as they care for patients is not permitted. Respect for the situation is always required, and it’s crucial that designers stay clear of day-to-day activities. However, with a bit of flexibility and a lot of planning, we were able to test our ideas during a two-week period.

We created ten prototypes around research findings and tested them in close collaboration with the Patient Rights and Relations (PRR) departments of Saudi Arabian hospitals. We tested instant digital feedback devices by placing them in key areas around hospitals, and transformed a PRR department into a 24-hour Rapid Response Team. While previously the department was simply in charge of collecting patient complaints and sending them along, we gave PRR staff the more active task of walking around the hospital to answer questions. This not only changed patient experiences for the better by preventing confusion and addressing potential problems before they arose, it also improved PRR employees’ pride in their work.

I don’t recognize my staff; they have been running and smiling the whole week during this prototype with you.

Patient Rights and Relations Manager, King Saud Medical City, Riyadh

Our findings were packaged in a final report that included a recommended plan for implementation and scalability. Solutions addressed both preventing complaints by improving patient experience and handling complaints that might still come in. By using service design methods to tackle problems, we ensured a time-efficient process that engages all stakeholders and applies a fresh, creative perspective to healthcare.