Over the next two years, around US$1.2 billion is expected to be pumped into the digital infrastructure in the GCC marking a significant rise in AI investments, according to a report revealed at the recent Precision Medicine Exhibition and Summit.
While we were already on a path of greater adoption of technology in the healthcare space, the pandemic accelerated digital transformation in health and social care by up to five years, say experts. The rising investments in digital infrastructure are reflective of this change. A core part of these investments is directed at using artificial intelligence and machine learning to streamline workforce and management processes, reduce costs of medical establishments, and improve patient care and experience.
“As of 2022, we see the implementation of more AI-powered tools that significantly help clinics increase revenue and decrease the healthcare provider burn-out ratio. There is a high demand from the industry to implement internal optimisation tools as well as smart workforce management solutions.
“Five years ago, only 15 per cent of the medical clinic clients requested us to implement such tools. Now, our scheduling and workforce management tool is our winning formula,” said Melda Akin, Founder and CEO, D14.ai.
The company has built Dhealth, an operating system for healthcare clinics that helps manage various aspects of practice, engage with patients, and improvise doctor, room, and asset scheduling.
“The system uses machine learning to react to patient behaviour with personalised patient journeys. Patients can access and control their records, as well as book appointments online in real time. We're proud of improving people’s health by using AI,” added Akin.
The company’s workforce management platform was launched in 2019, and the clinic management platform in 2022. “We’ve been serving international large clients to small clinics. More than 150 healthcare providers have been using our system, serving more than 90,000 patients.”
Most of the large healthcare providers in the UAE are connected to patients through their apps.
Prime Healthcare Group, for instance, launched its mobile app in 2009. “We were one of the first healthcare organisations to launch a mobile app. In 2017, we added more features that allowed patients to access their reports, receive medication reminders, view medication history, and visits, etc. The app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times on play store and more than 50,000 on app store,” said Jaleel Rahiman, Director IT and Prime Digital, Prime Healthcare Group.
More than 13 per cent of appointments are booked through this app and patients use it to access lab and radiology reports, he added. Individual apps of healthcare providers work well but also restrict the choices of a patient. Rashed Abdulrahman, an Emirati tech enthusiast, saw this as an opportunity and launched an app in 2022 that allows patients to browse through a growing list of medical care providers in the emirates on one platform.
“MEDICAPP is acting as a bridge between healthcare providers and users in the United Arab Emirates, giving patients a wider choice with least effort,” said Abdulrahman.
A feature in the app allows users to rate the service and the hospitality of the healthcare service provider. This could eventually become a good barometer for UAE residents, visitors, and medical tourists, who are unsure of which hospital or clinic to visit in time of need. MEDICAPP is part of the burgeoning digital health startup community in the UAE tapping into new-age technology to provide better patient care. The use of artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), wearable technologies, 3D printing, and drones are transforming healthcare experience like never before and helping bolster the UAE’s ranking on the medical tourism index.
Considering the global medical tourism is worth US$35 billion to US$55 billion with 12 to 14 million travellers taking medical trips each year for treatments including cosmetic surgery, reproductive health, dental and orthopaedic among others, the UAE is poised to attract a greater share of this pie in coming years. Medical tourism in the UAE could touch Dh19 billion by 2023.
Medical tourism sales in the UAE are expected at Dh8.4 billion in 2021, growing at 17.1 per cent CAGR between 2021 and 2025, as per the Investing in healthcare in the UAE report by the Ministry of Economy.
According to the International Healthcare Research Centre, in a survey among 46 countries, the UAE ranked sixth in Global Medical Tourism Index (2020-2021), and fifth in the quality of healthcare facilities and services. These numbers reinforce our belief that greater use of technology in healthcare bodes well for the overall health of our society in the UAE.