Saudi hospital executives are looking to the U.S. to learn how to better manage a large and growing hospital intended to become a regional magnet for specialized care.
U.S. to train Saudis in hospital management
As part of a two-year, $2.2 million partnership between the University of Alabama Birmingham and a hospital in Saudi Arabia, the university will enroll about 35 administrators from King Fahad Specialist Hospital in the university's master of science in health administration executive program.
The partnership with King Fahad Specialist Hospital is the first international agreement that the university has secured in many years, but it expects to work with other hospitals outside of the U.S., said Gerald Glandon, chair of UAB's department of health services administration. The department is in talks with a hospital in the Ukraine for a similar training partnership. “There's a great need in many parts of the world,” Glendon said.
The program for the Saudi executives will emphasize strategic planning, basic budgeting, human resources administration and financial management in a “blended” learning format that includes online classes and on-site teaching in Saudi Arabia once every semester.
Many of the hospital's administrators are physicians, Glandon said, and “there's not a professional management tradition” in Saudi Arabia.
King Fahad Specialist Hospital, which is in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, will become more of an academic medical center than a tertiary hospital as it grows from 400 beds to 1,500 beds with the construction of a new facility scheduled to open in four years, Dr. Khalid Sabr, the hospital's executive director of medical and clinical affairs, said in a UAB news release.
One factor that the program will address will be the role of efficiency in hospitals, Glandon said. Attention to efficiency has been growing outside of the U.S., he said, and hospitals in Saudi Arabia have been traditionally less concerned about it because of the resources that are available to them.
Another concern for the Saudi hospital is how to expand access and become a provider of choice in the region, Glandon said. Because the site will provide transplants, cardiac procedures and a neonatal intensive-care unit, the hospital will need to generate enough referrals to fill the 1,500-bed site.
Some of the UAB department of health services administration faculty have experience training hospital administrators in programs outside of the U.S., in part through USAID-funded programs in the 1990s that provided hospital management training in countries such as Yemen and Albania.
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