2020 has been a tough year for the whole world. The ongoing global pandemic has had its toll on lives, livelihoods and scale economies. The Middle East is no stranger to crises and has been (and still is) a hot petri dish to geopolitical, social and financial crises. But in the midst of the chaos, a glimmer of hope shines.
Governments, especially in the Gulf region, have long realized that their natural resources are finite, and that diversity is key for survival. Governments’ fundamental responsibility to deliver basic services, amongst other burdens, usually came at high consultancy costs, outgoing to foreign more experienced corporations. Big corporations who have been on the scene for decades and have been doing things very, very conventionally. A drive to think differently and look elsewhere was needed.
Over the past decade, the region has transformed to become an oasis to innovation, domestic and foreign. Placing small incremental bets on start-ups and entrepreneurs has stemmed out of not just convenience but necessity. The outcome? Better and faster results at a fraction of conventional costs. An impending boom in entrepreneurship and innovation was on the horizon most notably in the areas of fintech, hospitality and transportation. The MENA region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem has been steadily developing in the past decade, with big exits signalling a significant shift in the region, including Amazon’s acquisition of Souq, German-based Delivery Hero’s acquisition of Talabat and Uber’s acquisition of Careem making it the first unicorn in the Middle East.
What about Healthcare?
Healthcare systems in the region, as is the case in the rest of the world, were still lagging behind. Crippled with textbook solutions and safety concerns, the disruption of healthcare was considered impossible and changes were implemented at a slow, regulated and cautious pace.
The pandemic was a wakeup call to the whole world. It has opened our eyes to multiple gaps and endless possibilities. Changes that were forecasted to be adopted in 10 years are now being adopted in a matter of months. The expedition of digital adoption was just as exponential as the spread of the pandemic, and to good cause.
Healthtech has now become the center of global digital transformations and the Middle East was well prepared for it. With a rapidly improving digital infrastructure and with 85 million people of the region’s 160 million active online, the adoption of Healthtech services such as Telemedicine, Telehealth and Telepharmacy came naturally. The spike in utilization during lockdowns has dropped, after lockdowns were relaxed, to a plateau that is still a lot higher than pre-COVID utilization.
The value of digital transformations has been effectively demonstrated and has proven crucial in tackling a global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It is no longer a question of where do we go from here, but how fast? The future of Healthtech is now!