Dr. Rola Hammoud: A Cross-cultural, Organised, and Results-oriented Leader

As a pioneer in healthcare services, Fakeeh Care Group is expanding its presence in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, offering healthcare, technology and education. The group consists of various businesses that cater to the secondary and tertiary healthcare needs of the communities. Fakeeh Care Group’s services range from promoting individual well-being to managing chronic conditions, combating infectious diseases, and preventing them by educating the public with the best medical staff and the highest quality of care. The group’s compassionate healthcare journey began in 1978 with the renowned Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital (DSFH), established by the late Dr. Soliman Fakeeh himself, and has since grown into a group of businesses that provide services with international standards.
DSFH has been on a path of growth and innovation since its inception. In 1986, the late King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz launched the first expansion of the facility, increasing inpatient capacity and adding new divisions such as open-heart surgery, as well as clinics for neurosurgery, neurology, nephrology, and infertility. This established DSFH as a trailblazing force in the Kingdom’s private healthcare sector and continued its expansion in 1999, when the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, opened the second expansion, which improved the hospital’s services with pediatric clinics, neonatology, plastic surgery, and health promotion and fitness centers.
DSFH Madinah
Following the footsteps of the prestigious group, DSFH is bringing today its glorious history to the holy city of Madinah, where the 200-bed tertiary hospital will stand as a world-class healthcare pillar on its landscape. It is bridging excellence in care to digitalization in a healing and sustainable environment.
DSFH Madinah will strive to excel in medical services, reaching success rates that match international standards and will lead healthcare to a new era. It is helmed by its CEO, Dr Rola Hammoud, an expert in the design, development, operation, and management of healthcare integrated systems, and in building high reliability organisations.
An Inspirational Leader
Dr Rola Hammoud is a distinguished anesthesiologist and healthcare leader with over three decades of experience in the field. She has a strong academic background, having graduated as a medical doctor from Universite Libre de Bruxelles and as an anesthesiologist from the American University of Beirut. She also holds a master’s degree in hospital management, a teaching diploma, a mediation diploma, and a corporate governance certification. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a certified healthcare executive from the Harvard Business School.
Dr Hammoud had never designed a career for herself in healthcare management. She had wanted to be a doctor and had been an achiever at school and at medical school. Her objective to become a successful anesthesiologist was driven by a healing passion. Treating pain during and after surgical procedures, managing patients in a holistic approach while respecting their needs and supporting them through their journey were her ultimate goals. She had also wanted to grow in the academics and research field to build future generations. However, this couldn’t materialize as she had to move a lot around Europe and the Middle East during her studies. This was a great exposure for her as she learned a lot from different geographies like Belgium, Switzerland, Lebanon and from working in rural hospitals as well as academic teaching centres.
Having gone through this diverse and hands-on path made her learn more about being flexible and resilient, about diversities, and about cultural integration. This enriched her knowledge and her skills in medicine, in anesthesiology, and of course, the modern form of healthcare management including healthcare digitalization.
All this exposure helped Dr Hammoud to grow in the healthcare management field gaining knowledge about the integrated clinical, operational and financial governance that needs to be implemented to ensure an outstanding patient experience.
Her compelling vision of the future of a safe healthcare captured the imagination and the commitment of the teams she worked with. Her passion to serve patients is contagious, it instils excitement and energy around her and create a sense of motivation and belonging. Her integrity, humility, commitment to high standards and values and her authenticity helped in building trust and credibility with various stakeholders.
The Progression
Before moving to Fakeeh Care Group, Dr Hammoud spent 14 years with the reputable Clemenceau Medical Centre (CMC) , a tertiary private hospital located in Beirut, Lebanon, affiliated to Johns Hopkins International. On top of working there as a full-time anesthesiologist, she occupied various leadership positions to support in managing different medical teams and in leading the quality and risk management programs. She also guided, at this centre, several Joint Commission International accreditations to success. She played a central role in building a quality and safety culture at CMC through the establishment of the Quality academy, the staff engagement and the training initiatives.
Throughout her career, Dr Hammoud has always approached her work differently by reflecting on her experiences. As an anesthesiologist, she started by focusing on collaborating with surgeons, educating patients, and developing protocols to administer the safest care. She also made it a point to follow up with patients before and after surgery. Later, when she became the Chief of Anesthesia and Director of Operating Rooms, she worked not only with her patients but also with the entire hospital’s staff. She found it meaningful to build teams, standardize their product, set goals for patient outcomes, streamline processes, and establish guidelines for best practices in anesthesia and operating room pathways. To measure the productivity and utilization while maintaining safety, she set clear definitions and benchmarks for her key performance indicators. She did all this out of experience, curiosity, and willingness to learn more, without any formal studies in process design. Eventually, she moved on to become the Chief Quality Officer at Clemenceau Medical Center in Beirut.
Her passion to spread the knowledge about safe healthcare practices at the national level, drove Dr Hammoud to the foundation of the “Lebanese Society for Quality & Safety in Healthcare” (LSQSH) which she presided for 6 years. She established this NGO with five like-minded professionals passionate about healthcare quality & safety. This group of leaders organized yearly congresses, conferences, and scientific meetings and workshops, targeting providers in need to develop their expertise in this field. International speakers were invited to share their experiences with Lebanese professionals. This society was recognised by international societies as ISQua (International Society for Quality) and ASQ (American Society for Quality).
The society also collaborated with Lebanese universities to perform workshops on risk management and quality standards. “We grew to become a trusted partner with the World health Organisation (WHO) and with the Ministry of public health”, says Dr Hammoud. The collaboration with the World Health Organization focused on promoting patient safety through establishing the “National Patient Safety Goals”. Healthcare providers in hospitals were trained on the importance of those goals, how to measure them, and how to establish them in their institutions. Also, several public awareness campaigns took place to educate patients about their safety in healthcare systems set-ups and to stress on the view of “Patient safety as a Patient right”.
Dr Hammoud and LSQSH team became then subject matter experts in healthcare standards, contributing to the revision of the “Lebanese Standards for hospital accreditation” and were assigned by the ministry of health to become the trainers on the National Accreditation Surveyors training program.
A New Chapter in Dubai
Dr Hammoud then moved to Dubai as the chief medical and quality executive of Clemenceau Medical Center Dubai, where she led the opening, commissioning, licensing, and accrediting of a 100 beds facility, as well as providing medical leadership during the COVID-19 crisis. She then succeeded in bringing together a blend of western trained skilled medical professionals to practice in a high tech and safe environment and to provide a comprehensive range of sophisticated medical and complex services. Her medical team proved to lead the market in Dubai because of the patient centred approach and the focus on excellence in care delivery, patient outcomes and experience. She also played a pivotal role in affiliating the hospital to Sharjah university and in establishing the Johns Hopkins visiting physicians’ program.
During her practice in Dubai, Dr Hammoud became a reference and got elected, by the members of the American College of Healthcare Executives MENA chapter, as a VP then president of this chapter. She and the leadership team designed a new strategy to build more leaders in the region and expand to all MENA countries.
A move to KSA
Today, in her current role as the CEO of DSFH Al Madinah Hospital, Dr Hammoud has the privilege and responsibility of communicating and executing the overall direction, mission and vision of the hospital in alignment with the Fakeeh care corporate strategy and with the values and goals of the board of directors and the community. She will be leading a team of dedicated professionals who share a common vision of providing high-quality, compassionate, and affordable healthcare to the people of Al Madinah City and beyond. Leading the Steering committee, the task forces, and team of experts towards the opening of a 200-bed hospital that will offer a wide range of medical services and specialties.
As the CEO of DSFH Al Madinah Hospital, Dr. Hammoud’s key priorities include talent acquisition and capacity building for the medical, clinical, nursing, and administrative workforce. She also ensures that the staff has the necessary training, resources, and support to deliver excellent care to the patients. Dr. Hammoud maintains an organized system of management and controls to drive operational excellence. She ensures adherence to the best practices in response to local and international accreditation standards, such as the Joint Commission International (JCI) and the Saudi Central Board for Accreditation of Healthcare Institutions (CBAHI). She seeks to develop partnerships and community relations to foster growth and innovation by collaborating with various stakeholders, such as government agencies, academic institutions, private sector organizations, and civil society groups, to identify and address the health needs and challenges of the population.
Traversing the Alleys of Healthcare as a Leader and Achieving Goals
Dr Hammoud suggest that leadership in healthcare is similar to leadership in other industries, however its challenge is because of the concept of complex adaptive systems. Healthcare is complex and has many stakeholders, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, administrators, dieticians, and engineers. This complexity makes it hard to manage and lead. Leaders should focus on the vision and strategy, be transparent, and think about the system rather than a person.
Dr Hammoud emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and creativity in achieving organizational goals. As a leader, she advises to use strategic thinking, ethical decision-making, cultural competence, Quality improvement, safe practices, patient centred care, innovation and agility to lead healthcare organizations. Problems in healthcare are multifunctional and multidirectional, leaders should have a strong understanding of the different interactions and their implications on patient care. They shall also possess strong team building skills to facilitate multidisciplinary patient care. As the healthcare industry is constantly evolving, leaders need change management skills to navigate organizational changes and new care delivery models.
She emphasizes the importance of transparency, establishing trust, staying positive, and helping people achieve their goals to build a resilient and progressive organization. 
Finally, she believes that leaders in healthcare should lead with empathy, which is important for improving patient experience and creating a happier workplace. They should also be able to cope with pressure from various demands while providing care for patients. “Leaders should involve others, serve their teams, build connections, learn fast and most importantly manage themselves and I think this mindset can bring a lot to a great leader,” concludes Dr Hammoud.