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Government-led digital health initiatives drive adoption of telehealth in UAE and KSA

Article-Government-led digital health initiatives drive adoption of telehealth in UAE and KSA

Telehealth sector boosted by rising demand for consumer-centric services and public-private partnership models, says Frost & Sullivan.

Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Strategic Public-Private Partnerships Transforming the Telehealth Market in the KSA and the UAE, 2020–2025, finds that telehealth is a promising model for healthcare services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Both governments are developing robust digital health infrastructure to support telehealth services. The buoyant market—which includes virtual visits, mHealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM)—in the UAE is estimated to reach US$536.5 million by 2025 from US$121 million in 2019, at an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.2 per cent. Similarly, in the KSA, the market is likely to reach US$415.4 million over the forecast period from US$113.3 million in 2019, registering growth at a 24.2% CAGR. With the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth’s scope is widening as social distancing has created an unanticipated demand for telehealth and made it an important technology to evaluate, manage and track patients without in-person examinations.

“The launching of the Innovation Strategy 2019-2021 and Digital Health Strategy 2018 by the UAE and KSA governments, respectively, is the key factor driving digital transformation in the healthcare sector in both countries,” said a Healthcare Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Further, the rising demand for consumer-centric services and tools in the healthcare system and increasing participation of the private sector through various public-private partnership (PPP) models are leading the countries’ telehealth sectors toward maturity at a rapid pace. Large healthcare organizations are partnering with retail, healthcare IT, ICT, Medtech and insurance companies.”

Analyst added: “In KSA, as health insurance becomes compulsory, almost 90 per cent of healthcare spending in the next decade will be driven by private insurance; therefore, the need for management and preventive care will intensify the competition among private participants. The main competition will be in the direct-to-consumer route and partnerships with private or public healthcare facilities. The UAE is gearing up to fully exploit the benefits offered by telehealth. The adoption of mainstream telehealth services is rising steadily, and governments of different emirates are taking concerted effort to scale up across the country.”

Both countries’ focus on wellness and preventive care will catapult investment toward social determinants of health (SDOH) projects, presenting tremendous growth prospects for telehealth market participants. For further revenue opportunities:

  • Telehealth service providers should provide a 360-degree solution with a regulation-compliant health information system (HIS), which can support patients from remote triage to the entire continuum of care.
  • Companies specializing in specific digital health aspects should collaborate to form a single entity or a platform that serves multiple digital health needs.
  • Remote patient monitoring companies should explore telehealth’s market potential in UAE and KSA. Rising awareness and healthcare consumerism will create the demand for home-based care through real-time remote monitoring devices. The Dubai Health Authority initiative “Doctor for Every Citizen” will provide medical service at the point of care and Dawaee app.
  • Private telehealth product and service providers should partner with government healthcare bodies to implement and scale-up telehealth initiatives and overcome regulatory obstacles. Virtual visit software and service providers have opted to take the B2B and B2G routes by partnering with corporates, insurance companies and healthcare facilities.
  • Industry players should consider upcoming virtual hospitals and clinics in the UAE and KSA that will create the demand for connected medical devices, such as robotic surgery systems, medical mobile devices, telemedicine kits and digital cameras.
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