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BCG’s Survey Claims 41% of UAE Residents Turned to Telemedicine Solutions in 2021

The digital health market in the United Arab Emirates has witnessed rapid growth in recent years. Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) latest survey in 2021 highlights high adoption rates of digital health channels across the value chain. 71% of respondents search medical information online, 66% book medical appointments online, and 41% use video telemedicine.

Raghid Mahfouz, Principal, BCG commented on the findings, “Deep diving on the respondents who use video telemedicine, we see overarching trends, including that chronic patients are twice as likely as healthy individuals to use telemedicine (62% vs. 34%), and that majority (54%) of telemedicine usage was conducted through integrated channels operated by provider networks, 22% through digital shops (e.g., startups focused on specific diseases/patient groups), and 24% through many-to-many platforms (e.g., aggregator of multiple providers and insurers)”.

In addition to analyzing digital health adoption by consumers, BCG has also analyzed the positioning of digital health players across the value chain. Digital players offering front-facing solutions such as symptom checkers, appointment bookings, and video telemedicine have taken different approaches to build their positioning and business models. Some of these players offering front-facing solutions are targeting consumers directly (B2C), while others are targeting providers (B2P), insurers (B2I), employers (B2E), and governments (B2G) to access patients.

According to Dr. Nikhil Idnani, Managing Director and Partner, BCG, “consumerization in healthcare, like in other sectors, is placing more power and decision-making in the hands of the patient, a trend that has been accelerated by Covid-19. As consumers of healthcare services and products, patients expect convenience which can be easily enabled through technology solutions such as apps for appointment booking/ rescheduling, checking diagnostics results & prescriptions. Failing to meet patients’ expectations can have broader negative implications like changing doctors frequently or poor treatment compliance.”

In addition, some players have taken a further role in enabling the journey through connecting and processing healthcare data, building top-of-the-line analytics, and value management and predictive tools. Digital health players focused on analytics are emerging and enabling digital transformation in the healthcare sector across key markets in the Middle East. BCG’s analysis segmented analytics players into three archetypes:

  1. Players with broad analytics capabilities (i.e., not only focused on healthcare)
  2. Players with health analytics capabilities in select use cases
  3. Players bringing holistic health platforms, including most use cases

Jaykumar Patel, Managing Director and Partner, BCG added, “We see trends of partnerships building up between established public and private insurers/providers with these analytics players. The Digital healthcare analytics platforms are supplying the missing pieces of the puzzle, bridging the patient journey to the technological advancements in hospitals and clinical settings. Furthering the impact of digital innovation, partnerships between healthcare providers and analytics players are creating more value across the system and better outcomes and experience for the patients”.

BCG identified use cases in which digital health solutions can leverage AI tools and analytics to aggregate medical data and generate deep targeted insights. These use cases include “Patient 360” tools to support in patient engagement and personalized care, cost, and workflow optimisation, and value management, which eventually lead to better outcomes and population health management.

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