June 15, 2018

Report Explores How Digital Technologies Are Shaping the Middle East's Healthcare Ecosystems

According to a report published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU), "5 out of 14 countries in the Middle East have a well-defined digital transformation plan for healthcare in action. Governments, healthcare providers and companies will have to figure out how to initiate entire healthcare ecosystems to adopt new technology-enabled ways of solving challenges in healthcare."

The EIU's report, Digital Health: Digital Transformation in the Middle East, explores how digital technologies are shaping the Middle East's healthcare ecosystems, activities and stakeholders in significant ways. It is also on this deepened understanding that we examine the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in the realities of finding digital health solutions for this region. The report is segmented by three chapters.

Scaling up digital health solutions in the Middle East: The seeds of digital transformation 

"Government-led digital transformation efforts in several parts in the Middle East are reshaping how individuals and organisations in the healthcare ecosystem are interacting with each other. There is a stronger need for collaboration and companies will need to engage with other players on new terms."

Key implications:
  • For digital health to take off, there must be a fundamental shift in how stakeholders collaborate. Achieving a vibrant digital health ecosystem often requires government action;
  • Governments and organizations need a strategy not just for itself, but for the entire digital health ecosystem;
  • To scale digital health use, companies need to understand and respond to local challenges and varying levels of readiness for technology adoption in different markets; and
  • Companies can seed change in different markets more effectively and quickly by setting up centers for digital health in strategic locations with high digital density, leading to the formation of digital hubs.
Locating technology's value proposition in different markets

"Digital health instantiates itself uniquely in different countries and markets faced with an exclusive set of healthcare challenges. We examine how quality care can be extended across distances by growing telehealth use in different settings and geographies. We also look at data-driven solutions that are used to create smarter, more efficient and more precise healthcare delivery and patient experiences."

Key implications:
  • New insights will emerge from existing data that will challenge existing strategies and models in healthcare;
  • Recognize and define what healthcare challenges can be addressed by technological solutions;
  • Locate opportunities where technology can be used to enhance core products and value propositions of pharmaceutical and medical device companies, for example enabling more tailored treatments and services through big data insights;
  • Determine how ready are different markets and adopters for the introduction of technologically-enhanced product and service offerings, and tailor a go-to-market strategy accordingly;
  • Figure how incentives for adoption can be better aligned, e.g. initiatives to encourage patients to share their health data; and
  • Healthcare companies will have to think hard how technology can be integrated in their overall growth strategy.
Future care models for the Middle East: Keeping people healthy

"Digital technology is making new care experiences possible by reshuffling delivery nodes of different medical services that will bring opportunities in decentralized and near-patient products and services."

Key implications:
  • Companies need to think about how to offer value in a shifting healthcare delivery landscape as the delivery locus of different medical services gets reshuffled;
  • Anticipate patient and provider needs amid digitization; and
  • Remap patient pathways and journeys. Small preferences in using technology accumulates in broader changes in the patient pathway and journey.
The report further explains that "[w]hile the level of digital maturity is uneven across the region, and sometimes across different areas of healthcare, it is only a matter of time before the full benefits of digital health permeate the region. More than ever, healthcare companies need to respond to that future now."

If you work in the healthcare sector in the Middle East, how will digital health technologies shape healthcare?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

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