Thirty years from now, cancer and diabetes earn the label of defeated diseases alongside polio and smallpox. This seems like an outrageous claim to make but it does have statistics and data to prove it. The advance of new technologies and innovations–such as telehealth and virtual healthcare–has propelled the future of health into a digital revolution. Many healthcare practitioners and stakeholders predict that the healthcare industry will now model itself along preventative medicine rather than curative care.
The focus will shift from responding to illness towards sustaining overall wellbeing.
But how does the current trend of virtual health fit into shaping the future of healthcare in the GCC?
What is Virtual Healthcare?
Virtual healthcare is a broad term that encompasses all the methods that healthcare providers use to communicate with their patients remotely through digital means. This includes live video, audio, and instant-messaging tools. Virtual healthcare falls under the umbrella term of telehealth, or telemedicine, which involves the entirety of technology-driven healthcare.
Essentially, virtual healthcare is a way for patients to connect with their doctors, virtually, in real time. They can get the care they need without leaving the comfort of their home. This component of the evolving healthcare landscape helps those who don’t readily have access to the care they need. It can also give patients a better chance to find qualified second opinions online.
Virtual Healthcare Trends in The GCC
Governments across the GCC have implemented several reforms in the healthcare sector of their countries, starting with modifying the existing infrastructure. With the growth in population across Bahrain, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, the governments were faced with an urgent need to address how access to healthcare is distributed to patients.
In Saudi Arabia, healthcare is provided free-of-cost to all nationals and expatriates living there, through the Ministry of Health.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi followed suit in 2016, by making health insurance mandatory to all nationals and expatriates residing there.
With insurance companies entering the forum of distributing healthcare, there has been an increased participation of private sectors in the GCC. The government still remains a key player, but private stakeholders have ensured that resources are better utilized and efficient. The medical sector is booming with almost 350 hospitals being built and designed to enhance vital healthcare infrastructure. The healthcare market size in the entire region has increased exponentially.
The innovative developments put forward by hospitals and clinics have successfully managed to make the GCC market lucrative for future investments and growth with many stakeholders naming it as “..the Silicon Valley of healthcare”.
Online consultation solutions–like the one that TABIIB offers–are becoming the go-to method for patients to consult with their doctors.
The Rising Popularity Of Online Consultations
In the recent past, online consultations have become the only way a patient can connect with their doctor. What’s more, reports show that patient satisfaction with the care they receive via technology is at an all-time high. Remote consultations, while developing, didn’t have the legitimacy that in-clinic visits did. The general opinion now has shifted to a more positive end of the scale. The pandemic has completely altered the way consumers approach healthcare and their access to it.
With many hospitals and clinics offering remote online consultations, it becomes important to evaluate how digital change is being managed. So far, virtual healthcare has been used mainly for regular consults and check-ups rather than in-depth medical diagnoses. In the GCC itself, a report shows that remote health monitoring through health based apps is at the forefront of medical developments.
Since virtual healthcare promises accessibility and convenience, many patients have found it to be a simpler method of receiving care. This has led to reduced costs and waiting time for patients.
In addition to reducing costs for healthcare providers, the use of virtual technology in hospitals means that now, there is a greater focus on the patients. Essentially, the caregiving model is being reversed to bring healthcare to the patients, rather than it being the other way around. Convenience has been one of the biggest selling points of virtual consultations especially in the GCC public healthcare model.
It is important to remember, however, that virtual healthcare and online consultations are just one aspect of telehealth. They cannot be completely substituted or restructured without altering the existing care continuum.
How Technology Improves The Virtual Consultations Experience
Technology plays a fundamental role in the shifting dynamics of the healthcare sector.
Telehealth–by extension, virtual consultation–is just one way to address the aim of healthcare: to improve patient experience and population health.
Hospitals can increase access to services and allow people to stay in their homes. The cost of physically attending an appointment is reduced, as is the waiting time and because of this the patient experience improves, too.
There is nothing more important than health: we all want a safe means of accessing healthcare. Technology gives us the tools to allow this.
You can read more about how TABIIB simplifies virtual consultations here. To book an appointment or know more about our solution, visit us on www.tabiib.com