The future of digital health is rapidly evolving and transforming the industry. Integration of digital technologies has revolutionised how healthcare services are delivered and created new opportunities for improved patient outcomes as well as reduced costs. This evolution is expected to continue as digital health solutions become increasingly sophisticated and more widely adopted, especially with the investments by governments post-pandemic.
In recent years, the digital health industry has seen tremendous growth. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global digital health market is expected to reach US$536.6 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 18.3 per cent into 2027. This growth can be attributed to the increasing demand for remote patient monitoring, telemedicine, and e-prescribing solutions.
A key driver is a need to provide more accessible and affordable healthcare to an ageing population, particularly in the GCC nations that serve high quality of life, thereby allowing for longer lifetimes. With an increasing number of elderly patients, the demand for home based and remote healthcare services are expected to grow. In addition, the recent pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital health solutions, with telemedicine becoming a critical component of healthcare delivery.
Leaders in digital health in the GCC believe the future of medical care will be centred around patient-centric solutions and are inviting global leaders in this space to help innovate in the sector. According to Joe Moscola, CEO of Cerner Corporation, “The future of healthcare is about putting the patient at the centre of everything we do and using technology to empower them.”
By giving patients access to their health information and the ability to communicate with their healthcare provider instantly over connected devices, digital health solutions are helping to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs, but more importantly, creating a trusted environment and ecosystem of medical care.
The investments of more than US$1.5 billion by Mubadala since 2018 into digital health and the same amount being allocated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for healthcare information technology and digital transformation programmes underscores the importance being given by these two economies to the future of healthcare.
Another trend in digital health is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI and ML are transforming healthcare by providing more accurate diagnoses and treatments, particularly due to deeper and faster analysis of millions of records and big data information that can take regular human practitioners weeks to parse. “AI and machine learning are changing the way we think about healthcare, from diagnoses to treatments to patient outcomes,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a leading expert in digital health.
Blockchain technology has also entered the fray and is expected to play a key role in the future of digital health. Given the UAE and KSA’s increased focus and investment in blockchain innovation for a variety of industrial uses, the healthcare sector can expect more secure and transparent platforms for exchanging patient health information, enabling better collaboration between healthcare providers and payers, as well as improving the overall quality of care.
Despite the growth and potential of digital health, there are also challenges that need to be addressed. One of these is ensuring the privacy and security of patient health information. With the increasing amount of sensitive health data being collected and stored, it is essential to have strong privacy and security protocols in place to protect patient information. Blockchain is being seen as a key answer to this concern.
Another challenge is the lack of standardisation in the digital health industry. With so many different solutions available, it can be difficult for healthcare providers to know which are best for their patients. The lack of standardisation also makes it difficult for providers to seamlessly integrate different solutions into existing, legacy systems critical for patient care and outcomes.
The future of digital health is promising, however, there are challenges that need to be addressed, including privacy and security concerns, and the lack of standardisation in the industry. By working together, the healthcare industry and technology leaders can help to ensure that the future of digital health is one of the improved health outcomes and reduced costs for patients.