The entrepreneurial sector within the Middle East has all the ingredients needed for growth and success: a network of young business owners, a wide range of potential industries, and support from numerous outside resources. Although entrepreneurism has been thriving across the Middle East for several years, new companies catering to the healthcare market are only recently starting to emerge.
Whether they are creating in-demand mobile health (m-health) applications or developing resources for patient information, the following medical startups are making a big difference throughout the Middle East:
The winner of the 2015 World Summit Award for the best m-health content, Altibbi helps fulfill the need for trusted medical information that caters to numerous medical issues. Initially founded in 2010 as a small, web-based medical dictionary, the company has since expanded into medical information and assistance portal, staffed by 20,000 verified health professionals from across the Middle East.
Altibbi makes it easy for people to read thousands of medical articles written by doctors on everything from infectious disease to plastic surgery. Through the company’s app, patients can consult with actual physicians, obtaining unprecedented access to private, customized care. Now considered a “marketplace” of healthcare information, Altibbi has become the Middle East’s most prominent online informational platform for patients and doctors alike.
2. Class Dive
Recognizing the importance that fitness plays in maintaining one’s overall health, the founders at Class Dive created a startup dedicated to connecting Dubai’s residents with local exercise classes. By purchasing a “membership” on the company’s app, users can find and book a variety of classes, such as yoga, cross-fit training, and prenatal exercise, at fitness studios across Dubai. The more basic membership allows up to four fitness classes per month, while the popular Flexi Fit program lets people take an unlimited amount of classes at numerous locations.
In developing nations, such as Afghanistan, many people do not have access to quality medical care. Particularly in rural areas, individuals have trouble obtaining even the most basic routine medical checkups and many are forced to travel internationally to seek help for more serious issues. To solve this problem, AlemHealth, a Dubai-based telemedicine startup, connects physicians in clinics and hospitals in Kabul with specialists in the United States, India, and the European Union, who can analyze imaging information and diagnose medical conditions.
This process enables local patients to benefit from advanced diagnostic methods and expert opinions. Additionally, through their interactions with the outside medical teams, doctors in Afghanistan gain valuable knowledge and become better equipped to fulfill their patients’ medical needs.
AlemHealth is looking to widen its network to frontier markets in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, where large populations could also benefit from its services.
Formerly known as DrBridge, Vezeeta’s free web-based platform and accompanying mobile app allow patients to quickly and easily make appointments with certified doctors in many neighborhoods within six different Egyptian cities. The company’s users can look for physicians based on their field of focus, accepted insurance, and location. After comparing doctors based on more than 20,000 user ratings, patients can easily make an appointment online or via phone.
Since its launch in 2012, Vezeeta has amassed a network of more than 2,000 available physicians. This perfectly positions the company to help increase connectivity between patients and doctors while concurrently lowering medical costs.
Physician and entrepreneur Dr. Mazin Khalil initially established SudaMed to serve as a comprehensive directory for those seeking basic information about medical clinics across Sudan. However, the company soon expanded its services to include a patient payment card that offered a 50 percent discount to those who paid cash up front when visiting certain medical clinics. At a rate of $30 per card, this program has since attracted the attention of around 10,000 local patients.
However, Khalil did not stop there. He has since focused on turning SudaMed into the top patient record-storing resource in the entire MENA region. Using SudaMed’s platform, physicians can save their patient’s data while reducing the cost of their existing information management systems by nearly 90 percent. At the same time, the patients themselves can use the site to securely access their own records at any time.
Today, SudaMed is an all-encompassing online healthcare application that features appointment-booking tools, doctor-to-doctor consultations, and medical guidance. The company, which earned an award for Best Medical Services Company in the Middle East 2015, has also grown to include offices in the UAE.