Doctor @ home, phone or mobile unit? - Emirates24|7

Doctor @ home, phone or mobile unit?

68% of those surveyed across the region have a health-related application on their smart device. (Shutterstock)

Technology is providing the opportunity for new ways of accessing and delivering healthcare, according to a new report by PwC Middle East - ‘Care Anywhere: Moving health and wellness out of the hospital into the hands of the consumer’.

In a society that is living longer, with governments facing growing burden of long-term chronic disease and increasing costs of treatment, innovation and technology could be the catalyst for the region to lead the world in developing a healthcare system that is truly responsive to what people want and need.

The survey found that 67 per cent of the respondents across the Middle East are willing to receive healthcare in a non-traditional setting – such as at home, over the phone or in a mobile unit - illustrating the openness of citizens to new modes of healthcare. If technology were available, more than half of respondents would choose to have a live consultation with a specialist via their smartphone (62 per cent) or wirelessly check their pacemaker or defibrillator (50 per cent).

Consumers would also choose to receive a wide range of treatments in a non-traditional setting, such as a clinical setting in a retail store, pharmacy or retail unit – over half of respondents would have a wound or pressure sore treatment, blood test or face-to-face consultation in such a setting, with 40 per cent open to getting more complex services such as an MRI, ultrasound, x-ray or day case procedure there too.

Dr. Tim Wilson, Partner, PwC Middle East Health Industries Leader said: “People in the Middle East are among the most tech-savvy in the world. This widespread and rapid adoption of technology is reducing hurdles to healthcare access, enabling care anywhere. In this new normal era of ‘lower for longer’ oil prices and pressure on revenues, Governments and the private sector are re-evaluating how healthcare is provided now, and what it needs to be in the future to cater for an ever-increasing population. The Middle East has a unique opportunity to lead the world in developing consumer-led healthcare system for its citizens.”

The survey also suggests some interesting behavioural changes, with people taking more responsibility for their own individual health and wellbeing; 68 per cent of those surveyed across the region have a health-related application on their smart device. The most widely used of these applications are those related to exercise and dieting/weight loss.

According to PwC, developing a smarter healthcare system means focussing relentlessly on meeting consumer needs and understanding their changing attitudes to healthcare and wellbeing. The survey findings hint at a huge opportunity for Government and providers across the Middle East to develop improved health outcomes and create a healthcare system that could be the envy of the world. “But, that will only happen if the focus remains firmly on the consumer, and if there is real collaboration between Governments, healthcare providers, suppliers, new-entrants, investors and consumers,” said Dr Tim Wilson.