Kuwait’s Healthcare Disruptors
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Advanced Technology Company (ATC) has spent the past four decades expanding its business both horizontally and vertically to build an unrivalled portfolio of products and services, reflective of the shared passion for technology and entrepreneurial spirit among its stakeholders.
Reacting to – and predicting – the latest trends in the healthcare industry, the Company was able to forecast upcoming disruptive technologies and adapt its business to cater for the medical needs required across multiple divisions; including dental, biomedical, lab, pharmacy, security and other applications.
“In 1980, ATC was nothing more than a shared vision. But by reacting accordingly, we were able to build early relationships with GE, Beckman Instruments and J&J. By 1981, ATC’s main two lines of business were GE’s CT machine and the Beckman Astra chemistry analyser. These two machines opened doors for ATC, driving interest in other medical equipment and services supplied by the industry giants and their partners,” Ghassan Mamlouk, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) recalls.
Guided by its core values to be adaptable, trustworthy and competent – project after project, handover after handover – ATC continues to demonstrate a high level of competence; subsequently highly lauded by its partners and clients as an overachiever.
“Even with more than 1,500 employees today, ATC still remains adaptable, flexible, and agile. Building a brand that is synonymous with the word trust was a gruelling challenge, especially in a hypercompetitive and dynamic industry such as healthcare; affected by multiple exogenous factors year-round,” the CEO adds.
Transforming into a public Company via an initial IPO in 2007, ATC’s restructure nine years ago allowed the organisation to better adjust to the fluctuations and future needs of the healthcare industry.
The CEO explains: “By being proactive rather than reactive, we segmented the Company into 10 core divisions, each led by its own Vice President or manager to ensure a streamlined and flat organisational structure. By closely monitoring certain KPI’s and metrics in the industry, we eliminate, reduce, raise, or create divisions accordingly; referring back to the adaptable set of values that we hold dear.”
Led by forward-thinking and a philosophy of continuous improvement, ATC’s turnkey offering is testament to sustained investment in “progress through technology” over the years. Mamlouk offers: “With technology at its core, ATC cannot remain idle in this hypercompetitive market. Our approach is to grow while still remaining small. That might sound like an oxymoron, but what I mean is that I want ATC to grow in manpower, market share, and overall business, but still keep many of the positive characteristics of a small business; mainly in terms of the aforementioned flexibility and agility aspects.”
The proliferation of breakthrough technology and innovation in the healthcare sector is booming, with notable trends in big data, health IT, paper-free hospitals, wearable devices and internet of things (IoT) – to name a few – demanding significant continual investment in research and development (R&D) so that ATC remains relevant and holds a steady advantage over other players in the market.
“The process of staying ahead of the industry curve is a gruelling practice. Here at ATC we always try to foster the type of culture that encourages innovation and focuses on the future,” adds the CEO. “Elsewhere, we are reinvesting our profits back into the Company to enrich our recruitment efforts and our relationships with stakeholders; sourcing employees that are zealous, passionate and qualified.”
A similar ethos is adhered to when forming strategic partnerships both locally and internationally. ATC carefully selects entities that align well with the Company’s overall structure and ethos; focusing on a criteria of organisational fit, standalone value, synergy fit and feasibility of the partnership. It was on these grounds that the Company chose to establish a business partnership with trusted enterprise rapid application development (RAD) platform, OutSystems, who assisted in the delivery of ATC’s hospital management system, Sapphire.
These two milestone projects represent the first time ATC was able to flex its muscles and showcase its capabilities and competencies, boosting brand equity and reputation in the region.
Sabah Al Ahmad Urology Centre (SAUC):
To this day, SAUC showcases one of the best examples of not only ATC’s turnkey capabilities but also the Company’s IT competence. The first hospital in the GCC region devoted to urology, SAUC is a one-stop hospital for the evaluation and treatment of all types of urological conditions in adults and children. This multimillion-dollar project was completed in 2013 and the centre was opened under the patronage of His Highness, the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
Comprised of nine floors across a total area of 20,000 square metres, SAUC is equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment and technology in compliance with the standards of quality, and health & safety. The Hospital’s seven divisions are unified under HMS, Sapphire; having become one of the first centres to be run entirely by ATC’s HMS.
Sabah Al Ahmad Cardiac Centre (SACC):
Cardiovascular diseases remain the number one cause of mortality in Gulf countries, despite the rapid advances in cardiology and cardiovascular surgery. The wish of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was to build a world-class cardiac centre that has a wide range of cardiology services and provides comprehensive care of the highest calibre, coupled with the latest advances in cardiac treatment, to the citizens and residents of Kuwait.
SACC was another turnkey project handled by ATC that was successfully handed over to the Ministry of Health in 2010; equipped to match the standards adhered to by the best cardiac centres in the world. Spread over five-stories, the SACC is also the first centre in the country to introduce a primary angioplasty programme. SACC was also equipped with sustainability and research in mind; with many partnerships established with top-rated worldwide cardiac centres today in order to exchange expertise and support research.
Besides these ongoing investments, ATC has spent the past three years building a holistic and flexible third-generation health IT solution that is “more in-tune with the region’s realities”, creating a better platform to push state-of-the-art health technology.
“We ended up naming the system Sapphire after the birthstone of its month of conception, September. The software was born out of industry frustration; fuelled by the implementation and use of stubborn rigid systems that do not assimilate and integrate well with regional cultures nor with ancillary systems,” highlights Mamlouk.
“Sapphire is a hospital management solution (HMS) that can be deployed and customised by any hospital or healthcare institution, regardless of size and scope, while providing patients with an array of services consistent with state-of-the-art medical organisations. Sapphire comes with a fully customisable HL7 engine allowing for seamless integration with all hospital systems such as third-party EMR, LIS, RIS/PACS, or CDSS.”
With a user-friendly interface that is completely adaptable to its environment, Sapphire HMS provides doctors and nurses in the inpatient ward with a state-of-the-art e-whiteboard that enables control of ward flows, bed management, access to patient details and clinical information, as well as managing the assignment of the doctor-in-charge for each patient.
“I am a true believer that we are in the business of saving people’s lives,” the CEO affirms. “Sapphire is not just a sophisticated information system, it has the potential to significantly minimise medical errors, alleviate patient concerns and boost healthcare competence. If I am able to make the jobs of doctors, nurses and hospital administrators easier then I believe I have fulfilled my duty.”
Committed to remaining one step ahead in the market, ATC is putting all the pieces of the puzzle in place to explore new growth opportunities while continuing to keep abreast of the latest healthcare technologies and subsequent market demands.
“We only take on projects that align well with our portfolio and get us closer to our overall vision of being the leading healthcare solutions provider,” says Mamlouk. “Our main policy lies in identifying future market and customer needs by looking for projects that can help us build new partnership opportunities, leading to synergies across multiple related industries. In this regard, I personally believe the world is our oyster.”
He concludes: “Regardless of the amount of capital you have and how much weight you put on research and monitoring trends, one innovation can penetrate the industry and disrupt it, leaving your service offering less relevant. In three-five years’ time, I hope to be closer to achieving my goal of pushing ATC out of the GCC region.
“Ultimately, I want to use ATC and Sapphire HMS as a medium to boost overall patient care in hospitals and health institutions; enhancing patient safety, decreasing medical error, and promoting sustainable development.”
With several projects currently in progress – including expansion works at Jahra Hospital expansion, Kuwait Cancer Control Centre and Al Farwaniah Hospital – ATC and its stakeholders are looking forward to what the future holds.