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Will digital healthcare tools revamp the regional medical landscape?

Will digital healthcare tools revamp the regional medical landscape?

As technology drives the future of all industries, healthcare startups may help shape the future of medicine too

Embedded in research and science, and mostly regulated by the state, healthcare is a challenging space. But it presents a myriad of opportunities too. As the regional startup ecosystem and innovative technologies continue to evolve, new models of primary care are emerging, pushing digital health towards greater heights.

The broad spectrum of digital health, simply defined as using technology to help improve people’s health, entails various tools – from medical apps and software that aid practitioners in better clinical decisions – to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine tools that help diagnose and treat illnesses better. The consumer side of digital health has also scaled considerably due to the growth of wearables and health apps.

Holistically, digital health tools facilitate wellness through early diagnosis and disease prevention, improved disease management and a healthier lifestyle.

While globally, several digital healthcare startups have emerged in recent years, the regional sector is also gaining ground.

The year 2020 started on a high note for the regional healthcare startup space as Okadoc, the appointment booking platform in the UAE, garnered $10m in funding, securing the largest healthtech Series A round in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The platform intends to use the funds to launch telemedicine, enabling medical practitioners to offer virtual consultations.

Offering added value, UAE’s Health at Hand startup offers customers video consultations with regional doctors, and claims to be the first healthcare provider to be licenced by the Dubai Health Authority to provide telehealth services.

Similarly, UAE-based healthcare engagement platform Healthigo connects careseekers to over 5,000 healthcare providers, with more than 18,500 doctors and over 100 insurance providers in the UAE.

DIGITAL HEALTHCARE ECOSYSTEM
The emergence of healthcare startups will foster a digital health ecosystem in the region which should help in more ways than one, offering smartphone users enough tools for effective lifestyle and medical management.

Besides serving altruistic purposes, such digital tools will also help cut hospital visits and possible admissions, as well as reduce and streamline physician appointments. Curating a repository of data on healthcare providers around the globe for potential cross-border alliances could be another added benefit.

WHAT COMES NEXT?
Digital health benefits the entire value chain – from careseekers to providers, which could potentially help alter the medical landscape.

Globally, the digital health market is expected to be worth $223.7bn by 2023, market intelligence firm Prescient & Strategic (P&S) Intelligence suggests. Meanwhile, the GCC healthcare market is expected to reach $70bn this year, of which digital health strives to account for a sizeable chunk.

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