Interview with Mr. Jamal Al-Showaikhat, Chief Executive Officer, Leader Healthcare Saudi Arabia

Leading from the front
Today, a healthcare sector upgrade is recurring for most GCC countries. A lot of them are already in the process of revamping the system, preparing it for attracting investments and allowing healthy competition from the private sector. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) overall, the private sector contribution to total healthcare spend currently stands at 25 per cent, which the National Transformation Programme (NTP) targets to raise to 35 per cent by 2020. Another recent trend that has emerged in the KSA is the focus of the Ministry of Health on having dedicated training centres inside every hospital. In an interview with Arab Health, Leader Healthcare Saudi Arabia’s CEO Jamal Al-Showaikhat said: “I believe in the coming 10 years Saudi Arabia will drive the world in terms of simulation”. Excerpts:

Give us a brief about yourself. How did you come to work in the healthcare industry?
I am a Saudi citizen and hold a BS degree graduate from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. I worked in P&G for 17 years as the Associate Director of Finance in the Arabian Peninsula. Since graduation from university, I was involved in my grandfather’s business, which was in the optical field where we used to handle contact lenses’ manufacturing sites. That was my start in the medical field and that is where my dream to build a medical company began. Our company is called Jamal Al Ayoun Optics Establishment and have 13 branches all over the Kingdom. We sold over 2,000 optical products at that time.

When did you start Leader Healthcare and what motivated you?
I had a friend who also worked in the optical business and we spoke about starting a joint venture. At that time, he introduced me to one of his friends Sukhdeep Sachdev. The three of us then began discussions and formed Leader Healthcare in 2009. We are a super specialty healthcare organisation that caters to the requirements of the everchanging medical landscape. Our mission is to create and provide a comprehensive system of delivering healthcare and services related to it.

What do you think is driving the healthcare industry forward in Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest countries in the region. The government pays a lot of attention to healthcare. In fact, the second most important budget allocated in the government is for the health sector. I recently read an article that highlighted that by 2030 the total investment in the healthcare sector in the country is going to be more than US$100 billion. Today, many medical centres and cities are being formed in the country. Another important topic that the Ministry of Health is focusing on is that every hospital in Saudi Arabia is being asked to have their own training centre inside the hospital. I reiterate that in the coming 10 years Saudi Arabia will drive the world in terms of simulation.
Recently, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah inaugurated the Saudi Health Simulation Conference in Riyadh. Leader Healthcare was a Platinum Sponsor of the event because we believe that simulation is going to be a new era in the medical field in the coming years.

What would you say is the impact of healthcare simulation in healthcare in Saudi Arabia?
The impact of AI in the medical field is huge. For example, in simulation today, we see doctors, nurses, or people working in the medical field being trained in the new techniques through innovative devices. Another trending topic is that in many of the schools and colleges in Saudi Arabia, Leader Healthcare is leading the industry in driving this change of training and diversifying the accredited programmes. We are implementing these projects in many universities where we can integrate the latest in technology. 

Today, surgeries have become the only solution for different pathologies and complex cases. Therefore, it has become more critical to have surgeons that are well educated and trained on the “Cut Suit”, a realistic way to simulate the look, feel, and smell effects of severe traumatic events on a live human casualty while allowing first respondents and physicians to safely perform real procedures – from the point of injury to treatment en route, and transition of care to surgical intervention. Trainees of surgery at most surgical residency programmes are usually under a lot of pressure to perform quick and efficient treatment to the injured individuals at an incident scene, as a life will directly depend on their performance and quick response. The Cut Suit offered by Leader Healthcare meets the various training needs, starting from psychological and emotional pressure, training the student’s psychomotor skills and achieving excellence in performing rescue tasks in a timely manner.

Another important innovation that we have today is virtual reality where we can get people trained in their daily environments and where they can practice their various medical scenarios safely. For instance, scenarios from different site locations and incidents can be brought into your facility for the purpose of training. Furthermore, our team travels all over the world to procure and bring new technology to the region such as the Interactive Immersive Classroom.

We are working on saving more lives through emergency medical training and also focus on wellness, beauty and lifestyle changes. We take complete care in understanding the latest market trends and providing clients with new surgical and diagnostic equipment devices for usage in areas such as Emergency rooms/Operating rooms, Ophthalmology, ENT, Aesthetic Dermatology, Plastic Surgery, Orthopaedic, models for simulation-based medical education and general home healthcare department.

Is Saudi Arabia emphasising prevention?
The Minister of Health has directed investments in prevention. This was obvious at the recently concluded Patient Safety Congress, which was opened by the Minister himself in different regions of the Kingdom such as Riyadh and Jeddah. The highlight of these events was Salma, a virtual reality programme where patients could ask questions and Salma, an AI BOT, answered those concerns. Saudi Arabia is leading in the market in Patient Safety in the GCC. 

How important is it for you to be present at Arab Health?
Our booth at Arab Health is one of the largest and also the Platinum Sponsors which highlights the importance of the show for us. We invite a number of delegates to attend this event from all over the World and make sure they have the best experience of the Arab Hospitality. The team makes sure to bring together all partners from leading innovations to the booth and we achieve to be known as a “one-stop solution provider”.

What products will you be showcasing at Arab Health 2020?
Could you shed light on your future plans?That is to be witnessed as we have something very exciting this year! Leader Healthcare is an international brand with presence all over the GCC, South Asia and APAC. We are also looking forward to expanding more in the other Middle Eastern regions such as Egypt and Iraq.