GCC governments have invested heavily in healthcare infrastructure over the past several decades. Apparently, health cities and luxurious health complexes are springing up like mushrooms, raising the quality of medical services and striving to establish the Gulf region as a medical center.
With world-leading infrastructure, the healthcare sector is poised for the future, which will present a host of new challenges, foreseen and unforeseen, including a growing population and population density, increasing life expectancy, population over 65, changing lifestyles and more.
Conversely, the upcoming trends in health tech services illustrate a promising perspective that will empower patients to play an active role in health management at every stage of the treatment process. Meanwhile, advances in technology will have far-reaching implications, enabling prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and care.
Changing demographics and epidemiological trends are the main factors contributing to the increasing demand for healthcare in the Gulf States. However, transformation programs in larger economies such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are driving a fundamental shift aimed at transforming the healthcare industry from an emerging market status to one of opportunity and transformation.
Jad Bitar, MManaging Director and Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
Postponement of Service Delivery
The growing and aging population, high prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), rising treatment costs and the proliferation of health insurance are all contributing to higher costs in the industry. Navigating these challenges requires deeper insight Personalized healthcare, development of a patient’s “digital profile”. Several technologies are pushing the boundaries of traditional medicine, enabling the transition to personalized medicine and more individualized treatments, including targeted and genetic medicine, bionics and robotics, tissue engineering and 3D printing. Overall, the wave of innovation is expected to offer more personalized services and treatment options, especially when combined with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and massive amounts of data. This will usher in the era of consumer-focused digital health that has been much talked about in the last decade.
We recently conducted extensive research across 25 cities and identified trends shaping the future of healthcare. As digital and technology act as fundamental design forces, five key trends stand out:
Patient empowerment: Patients will take an increasingly active role in the patient journey, using access to their own health records and personal health analyses, home testing kits, personal electronic monitoring devices, etc. to shape their health and become an important part of the decision-making process.
Prevention: Health systems will benefit from predictive diagnosis of diseases, supported by technologies such as AI-assisted risk profiling, epidemiological understanding of different counties and cities, and data analysis for targeted health screenings. This will be the basis for predictive-preventive systems. 2
Personalized treatment: New technologies (e.g. tissue engineering and 3D printers) will enable personalized and more accurate treatment, enabling the introduction of tailored medicine; Healthcare systems will create and use a patient’s “digital profile” to enable targeted treatment for individuals and populations with similar profiles.
Integrated deployment models: Significant shifts are underway, from inpatient to outpatient care, and the emergence of alternative patient-friendly formats and seamless virtual healthcare networks, to home care, mall care, and other formats.
health expert 4.0: Machine-assisted diagnosis will enable a symbiosis between healthcare professionals and AI, where digital imaging diagnostics, virtual reality, digital twins and routine surgeries will deliver greater value and better health outcomes. 4.0 health workers will require increased digital, cognitive and behavioral skills.
The rapid advances in health technology at the GCC result from the region’s agility to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic with accelerated adoption of technology-enabled solutions. Healthcare has seen a clearer and more disruptive shift, with a massive shift towards prevention rather than cure through health tech solutions that are more data-driven, creating efficiencies across operations, costs and care. In the future, decision-makers can leverage these solutions at scale by considering public-private partnerships with HealthTech startups, driving growth across the healthcare service chain.
By Jad Bitar, MManaging Director and Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)