Efficiency evaluation of public hospitals in Saudi Arabia: An application of data envelopment analysis

Ahmed D. Alatawi, Louis Wilhelmus Niessen, Jahangir A.M. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective In this study, we assess the performance of public hospitals in Saudi Arabia. We detect the sources of inefficiency and estimate the optimal levels of the resources that provide the current level of health services. We enrich our analysis by employing locations and capacities of the hospitals. Design We employ data envelopment analysis (DEA) to measure the technical efficiency of 91 public hospitals. We apply the input-oriented Charnes, Cooper and Rhodes, and Banker, Charne, Cooper models under Constant and Variable Returns-to-Scale. The assessment includes four inputs, and six output variables taken from the Ministry of Health databases for 2017. We conducted the assessment via PIM-DEA V.3.2 software. Setting Ministry of health-affiliated hospitals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Results Findings identified 75.8% (69 of 91) of public hospitals as technically inefficient. The average efficiency score was 0.76, indicating that hospitals could have reduced their inputs by 24% without reduction in health service provision. Small hospitals (efficiency score 0.79) were more efficient than medium-sized and large hospitals. Hospitals in the central region were more efficient (efficiency score 0.83), than those located in other geographical locations. More than half of the hospitals (62.6%) were operating suboptimally in terms of the scale efficiency, implying that to improve efficiency, they need to alter their production capacity. Performance analysis identified overuse of physician's numbers and shortage of health services production, as major causes of inefficiency. Conclusion Most hospitals were technically inefficient and operating at suboptimal scale size and indicate that many hospitals may improve their performance through efficient utilisation of health resources to provide the current level of health services. Changes in the production capacity are required, to facilitate optimal use of medical capacity. The inefficient hospitals could benefit from these findings to benchmarking their system and performance in light of the efficient hospital within their capacity and geographical location.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere031924
JournalBMJ open
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 12 2020


  • Data envelopment analysis
  • General hospitals efficiency
  • Public hospitals
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Technical efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Efficiency evaluation of public hospitals in Saudi Arabia: An application of data envelopment analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this