GCC 'can benefit greatly from digital healthcare'
Dubai, November 13, 2013
GCC governments have been urged to implement digital technologies in the healthcare sector to increase quality and productivity.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a leading global management consulting firm, in a recent study highlighted that this move will also support transition to a prevention-focused healthcare system which is the need of the hour.
GCC governments are exerting strenuous efforts to assure quality in the sector and keep pace with the needs of their growing young population. Governments’ share of health expenditure typically ranges between 63 per cent and 80 per cent of the total healthcare spend. This significant expense is coupled with rapid annual increases of over 10 per cent in some GCC countries, it said.
It seems increasingly evident that the traditional GCC model for healthcare provision will need some changes to address the challenges faced by the industry at present, it said.
The local GCC governments can start tapping into the power of digital technologies to improve the services of the healthcare sector and elevate the industry’s efficiencies. "Today’s technologies readily enable the analysis of quantitative and outcomes-based data across large population groups, allowing online and video consultations and providing intelligent self-diagnosis and self-management tools. In addition, there are various other innovations that could improve healthcare costs, quality and access,” added Kapil Bhatia, principal, Boston Consulting Group.
“While developments in technology for healthcare are broad and plentiful, in many cases they are still experimental. However, a number of developments stand out as they have been proven to work in real life scenarios and are particularly promising for potential application in the GCC region,” said Bhatia.
If digital technologies are applied astutely, they have the potential to reshape the healthcare system for patients, providers, payers and society. By using readily-available technologies, patients could manage their own health and wellbeing far better, and make informed choices relating to healthcare providers and level of care needed.
For instance, the use of mobile phone apps to increase compliance; online pharmacy services to ensure timely delivery of medicines; online helpdesks using audio-visual material for questions about treatments; well-being apps that allow patients to track and register vital statistics can bring about significant changes.
Patients can also benefit from remote treatment options, such as video consultations and secure emails between physicians and patients. Remote clinics would not have all the specialists present in the clinic but rather a core staff for emergency care and to operate the diagnostics equipment. The specialist in the major health center gives instructions by video conferencing and is able to see the output of the diagnostics on his own screen. Technology like this can make the reach of medical expertise much larger especially useful to address rural populations in the larger GCC countries. – TradeArabia News Service