August 18, 2021
The healthcare sector in the UAE region is experiencing significant growth. With the rapid urbanization of the country, demographic shift, modernization of people’s lifestyle, excessive tobacco consumption, and a looming burden of chronic lifestyle disease, the demand for value-based healthcare in the region is going through the roof. Furthermore, an influx of foreigners in the United Arab Emirates has further added the momentum to the demand for better healthcare.
As the demand for world-class healthcare rose, the UAE government found itself in the sea of challenges ranging from an increase in non-communicable diseases to the recruitment of healthcare professionals and the inducement of the modern-hi-tech facilities in healthcare. Nevertheless, the UAE government played an instrumental role in shaping the sector. The current scenario and the projections explicitly showcase the will of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government to extensively expand and upgrade its healthcare system and develop a robust world-class healthcare infrastructure.
Besides increasing the healthcare expenditure, the government is emphasizing on digitizing healthcare. Further, the tech-revolution paved the way for a patient-centric healthcare model enabling high-tech diagnostics tools, telehealth, and robotic surgery. The implementation of the National Unified Medical Record (NUMR) will inoculate from a paper-based healthcare record system. It will facilitate the nation-wide sharing of the information through a simple click.
Healthcare infrastructure in the UAE has grown multiple folds in recent years, primarily due to investments by regional governments. Significant investments in infrastructure are channeled through private investments encouraged by the UAE governments. The past few years have witnessed the UAE government collaborating with several private healthcare providers. For instance, American Hospital Dubai became the first in the MENA to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network. In similar lines, Meraas, a Dubai-based holding company, has launched an outpatient clinic at its City Walk development that would be a member of Houston Methodist’s Global HealthCare Network. UEMedical, part of United Eastern Group, professes to be a leading healthcare development and investment company in Abu Dhabi.
The country is proactively unfurling intuitive technology to equip its healthcare sector with Smart Hospitals. However, at present, the UAE heavily relies on the import of high-end medical equipment. To overcome this, UAE has partnered with some of the major US medical device giants such as GE Healthcare, Philips Healthcare, Abbott, 3M, and Medtronic. The UAE government, through these collaborations, aims to become self-dependent in terms of pharmaceutical and medical devices. The proactive move by the government and business-friendly environment invites pharmaceutical giants worldwide to expand their geographical presence in the region. A few years back, the UAE government expressed its dream of invigorating 3D printing in healthcare and exploiting the technology for manufacturing medical devices with the disclosure ‘Dubai 3D Printing Strategy’. Earlier this year, the Dubai Health Authority partnered with Sinterex, a startup specializing in medical 3D printing, to manufacture 3D printing labs and facilitate 3D printing to the point-of-care at DHA hospitals – Rashid, Latifa, Dubai, and Hatta Hospital.
The UAE is matching its footsteps with other developed countries by implementing electronic health records. The country maintains a comprehensive, integrated, and a paperless health record “Wareed” that minimizes medication errors and hospital stays. A few years back, the government introduced the new service ‘ClinicalKey‘ to further enhance the ‘Wareed’ system. Additionally, the country is also in talks with private database providers to unify and create an integrated medical record with all public and private information linked. Cerner Corporation, Epic Systems, InterSystems are a few international companies highly active in the UAE healthcare market, integrating the patient information in a single database. Under Dubai’s Network and Analysis Backbone for Integrated Dubai Health initiative, several healthcare facilities, including Mediclinic, Emirates Hospital Group, and Neuro Spinal Hospital, have opted for InterSystems TrakCare.
The UAE government has also envisaged the importance of telemedicine. Dubai Health Authority has introduced the telemedicine facility through its “Dubai RoboDoc” initiative. Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Healthcare has joined hands with Swiss telemedicine provider, Medgate, to create the Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Center. A Sharjah-based conglomerate, Mulk Holdings, has begun its journey to open 12 telemedicine centers in the Gulf region. Recently, Mulk Healthcare, a subsidiary of Mulk Holdings International, has inaugurated its digital hospital to bring healthcare solutions at the fingertips of the people. The ‘E-hospital‘ is set to become a pool accommodating healthcare experts worldwide to provide innovative healthcare in the UAE. Moreover, the Department of Health, Abu Dhabi, launched a ‘Remote Healthcare‘ app to examine symptoms and diagnose non-emergency cases and booking appointments for and remote consultations with the help of artificial intelligence. The Dubai government has also collaborated with several private healthcare companies to digitize its healthcare. Last year, MOHAP, Dubai, collaborated with Swedish health-tech company Brighter to launch Actiste, the world’s first service for monitoring and treating people with diabetes remotely.
With waves of coronavirus hitting healthcare globally, the UAE government steeled itself to minimize the consequences. With the proactive stance of the government, private healthcare providers took the lead. So far, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), UAE, has given its green signal to six companies to offer telemedicine solutions in the country. Aster DM Healthcare and HealthHub by Al-Futtaim took the initiative to introduce their video conference-style consultations to provide healthcare services at the times when the movement was restricted. Similarly, a UAE-based startup Okadoc pre-launched its telemedicine solution to enable hassle-free healthcare service delivery to people in the UAE. The service will enable virtual doctors booking and consultations from over 35 healthcare providers.
As a part of PPP, GE Healthcare, the Ministry of Health and Prevention, and Abu Dhabi International Medical Services have collaborated to form ‘Unison’ – UAE’s first public sector teleradiology capability – to bring about instrumental changes in the UAE healthcare system. Several startups such as ‘Heydoc’ and ‘InstaPract’ are also amazed by the concept of telemedicine, thus are readily embracing it. 3M Health Information Systems, Honeywell, IBM, and others are profoundly working with the UAE government and healthcare providers to realize UAE’s vision of adopting Artificial Intelligence in healthcare. In a quest of going deeper into the Smart solutions, the UAE has launched its first “robot pharmacy” that houses robots to dispense off the prescribed medication at the click of a button. This will significantly reduce the waiting time as the robots are capable of providing up to 12 prescriptions in less than a minute.
Recent years have also witnessed an increase in the number of people leveraging on-demand healthcare apps to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, cholesterols, etc. Health at Hand, MyMedicNow, DoctorUna, and many others have grown potentially well as a complete disruptive branch in the UAE healthcare market.
Healthcare is the top priority of the UAE today. From harnessing the power of Artificial intelligence in healthcare to leveraging the robots for the dispensing of prescription drugs, UAE is doing it all to reinvent healthcare. UAE healthcare is a promising market that presents lucrative opportunities for global private medical device providers and manufacturers. Under the patronage of the UAE government, several pharma players, big and small, are flourishing and probing the market landscape. With the burgeoning of medical tourists in the UAE, avant-garde infrastructure coupled with government’s initiatives, Dubai would soon emanate as the hub of medical tourism.
Source: DelveInsight – www.delveinsight.com