IT upgrade keeps Middle East hospital healthy

Von Kavitha Rajasekhar

By virtue of being one of the leading hospitals serving the fast growing Saudi Arabian health-care industry, the Jeddah and Madinah National Hospitals (JMNH) believe that having a high-performance IT infrastructure is critical to support its productivity and growth plans. With this in mind, the three hospitals in the group decided to go in for a total overhaul of its IT backend.

The health-care industry in Saudi Arabia is clearly emerging to be one among the more technology hungry segments across the Middle East. Though industry players in this region still need to mature in terms of the service levels offered -- health-care providers are beginning to make investments in technology, with the aim to use it to help them professionalize operations and raise the service levels offered.

?We believe that there are big investments that we see coming in IT in the near future in the health-care sector in Saudi and the Middle East in general. Currently the main investment areas are more focused on the infrastructure products like servers and networking equipment, but we see this as the first stage before players begin to implement more solutions to achieve better customer service levels,? says 3i Solution Jeddah Branch Manager Naser Kanan, having recently completed the infrastructure upgrade and implementation project for the hospitals.

The JMNH Group mainly operates three major hospitals -- Madinah National Hospital, Jeddah Clinic and New Jeddah Clinic. According to 3i?s Kanan, the IT vision of the group saw this infrastructure upgrade as a fast track way to improve network and connectivity performance, response time and also put in place a stable IT environment that could serve the hospitals 24x7.

? The JMNH plan was to upgrade the computer systems for many reasons. One was of course to improve the performance and response time, but we also wanted to put in place a highly available and reliable IT environment. Building in more storage capacity was also a need,? says JMNH IT Manager, Eng. Edward Yammine.

In the first phase, the project has almost totally been focused on technology to enhance data base management, storage, backup and network infrastructure. The entire project was completed by 3i in a joint effort with Tech Access and Sun Microsystems in a project that took three months. The hospitals set aside a budget of US$500,000 to pull the upgrade project through.

?By implementing the new servers and other solutions, the hospitals can expect to achieve better performance and faster response to the patients. Once that has been achieved the patients will be taken better care of with more professionalism and less time and the whole process will run a lot smoother,? says Kanan. This upgrade is also expected to facilitate the hospitals to us any new application or emerging technology over the infrastructure with minimal effort with greater ROI delivery.