Decoding Healthcare: A Whole New World

by Pria Masson Tanwar

Tue, 04 April 2023

Bahrain Decoding Healthcare: A Whole New World

World Health Day is seen as a day to focus on healthcare, its challenges, and successes every year. Following the pandemic, there’s no denying that a well-developed healthcare infrastructure is essential – a realisation that has led to the monumental expansion of the health sector. This month, Pria Masson explores the top three factors that she believes will be a big part of this thriving industry.

I have been watching regional versions of Shark Tank lately. Recent episodes had a spate of health-based products. There were health technology, mental health and AI, wellness and even healthy snack options. It got me thinking about how the greater the problems there are in an industry, the larger the opportunity. 

Data from 2021 shows that global spending on health innovation reached USD44 billion, double the amount in 2020. In 2021, the acquisition of health and health-tech companies rose by 50 percent. In the GCC, healthcare expenditure in 2020 ranged from 7.6 percent of GDP to 4.8 percent of GDP as against the global average of 10.3 percent of GDP.

Medical Devices – A Key Area of Focus
The Middle East and Africa (MEA) medical devices market is expected to reach USD 21.8 billion by 2027. The key countries contributing to this growth are expected to be the UAE, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. The healthcare sector in the region has been witnessing collaborations to shift manufacturing to the region. In 2022, the UAE government signed MoU’s worth over USD70 million between major pharmaceutical and medical devices companies in the UAE. As per Frost and Sullivan, the MedTech sector domestic manufacturing will gradually take over in the GCC region, driving the diagnostic and patient monitoring devices market growth to nine or ten percent.

Digital Transformations and AI 
Annual investments in healthcare digital infrastructure in the GCC alone are expected to increase from USD500 million to USD1.2 billion in the next two years. The health-tech start-up ecosystem in the MENA region is now worth over USD1.5 billion, which is a 22-fold increase since 2016. Artificial intelligence (AI) in the radiology value chain is likely to be driven by hospital investments in GCC, further bolstering AI usage in precision imaging for diagnostics and therapeutics. Virtual care, remote patient monitoring, and artificial intelligence (AI) are likely to be a big part of the region’s healthcare journey. 

Genome Testing and Personalised Medicine
Personalised Medicine (PM) tailors healthcare delivery to individual needs. It can help health systems improve outcomes and patient experiences, while controlling treatment costs. This is achieved with the help of data relating to a patient’s life and risk profile, medical records, health history, and genome. AI, big data, machine learning, and direct-to-consumer kits have made it easier to extract genomic information. Globally, genetic testing is projected to reach USD17.3 billion by 2026. 

The GCC region is also entering this space with Genome programmes now available across the region. The International Centre for Genetic Disease has been awarded USD10 million to design and implement the Bahrain National Genome Programme. Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) and the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Saudi Arabia have established biomedical and genomics research centres. The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH) recently launched the first Personalised Precision Medicine Programme for oncology in the region and llumina, a firm specialising DNA sequencing and array-based technologies launched its new, state-of-the-art solutions centre in Dubai.

Health was previously a broad, technical domain. It is now being sliced into much smaller areas, with a deeper focus. This slicing is across the board – in traditional healthcare, in mental health and even in wellness. Undoubtedly, healthcare is probably a space with the most “problems” waiting to find solutions. And solutions are emerging quick and fast with the help of AI, analytics and digitisation. The age-old saying ‘Health is wealth’ is clearly taking on a whole new meaning.

Pria is the Founder of GMI Advisory WLL– a Management Consultancy that helps companies with their strategy, business plans, presentations and preparing for investors . You can visit her company website to connect with her.  You can follow Pria at her Instagram handle @guide­_my_idea