Strong government leadership drives eHealth in key MEA countries

eHealth is a top priority
By Dillan Yogendra
08:21 AM

Across the region, public (and many private) hospitals and clinics are building up their IT infrastructure to facilitate patient information management and sharing – creating channels and touch points for patient administration and remote care and monitoring.

According to data recently released by the International Data Corporation (IDC), spending on IT among healthcare organizations is soaring in Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, and the UAE. Over the five-year period from 2012 to 2017, spending is projected to jump by ~10% annually.

Spending varies by country: for example in Saudi Arabia IT spending is linked to modernization and expansion of hospitals and clinics, as the country aims to expand capacity by at least 30 000 beds nationwide. In South Africa remote outreach and eDelivery are top priorities, as the number of qualified professionals in rural and poor areas has plummeted since doctors have moved to comfortable urban jobs in the private sector or headed abroad.

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Additional highlights from the data about the four countries include:

  • Healthcare is the second-fastest-growing sector after government in terms of IT spending.
  • Saudi Arabia is the fastest-growing healthcare IT market, rising by around 11% annually.
  • IT support services will be the fastest-growing services area, with spending soaring by around 13% annually in the combined four markets.
  • IT services account for more than half of IT spending in the healthcare sector, largely due to a pronounced shortage of qualified IT professionals willing to work in hospitals and clinics.
  • In software, spending on clinical information systems will climb 11.5% annually, although this will still represent a relatively small portion of the total spend.

"Governments in the four markets have all made great efforts and a real commitment to improving the quality of health services and the patient experience," says Nino Giguashvili, senior research analyst for IDC Health Insights. "Make no mistake, there is still a long way to go to match standards found in the world's most developed markets, and there is a lot of room for missteps. Nevertheless, the current commitment will still help drive developments in hospitals and clinics and enhance the patient experience."

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