The Middle East is in the midst of a growing healthcare crisis. As the local population has surged in recent years, the region has experienced an increase in healthcare costs, along with a decrease in available medical resources. In order to cope with this rising demand, numerous organizations across the Middle East have sought to revolutionize the way that healthcare professionals deliver care to their patients.
One area of focus is telemedicine, which allows people in different locations to securely transfer medical data and consult in real time. The field has attracted the attention of a growing number of entrepreneurs, who have established startups that offer unique telemedicine services for doctors and patients. Read on to explore a few of the most influential telemedicine startups in the Middle East.
Since its inception, AlemHealth has delivered the telemedicine services that doctors need to provide treatment to patients in far-flung locations. Entrepreneur Aschkan Abdul-Malek first developed the idea for his startup after living in Afghanistan and Iraq for five years. During this time, he noticed that there were only a few doctors available to serve a disproportionately large amount of patients. This shortage of physicians, Abdul-Malek found, was common in developing countries and rural communities across the globe.
AlemHealth was his answer to this issue. The company provides an avenue through which patients, doctors, and medical centers can collaborate on treatment. When patients visit their local hospital, they can request their physician to send their medical images to AlemHealth. Leveraging its global network, the startup then securely transmits the information to specialists, who review it and make a diagnosis. Within 24 hours, the specialists send SMS, email, or hard copies of their diagnosis to the physician. The physician can then work with the patient to develop the most effective treatment plan. This unique telemedicine service has enabled AlemHealth to deliver critical healthcare to some of the world’s most underserved communities.
Based in Dubai, UAE, CareNow places the power of healthcare directly in the hands of its users by allowing them to contact certified doctors directly through their smartphones. Through either video call or instant messaging, patients can consult with a physician and gain immediate insight into their medical conditions. In order to serve the diverse needs of its users, the CareNow platform can connect patients with specialists in fields ranging from pediatrics to mental health.
In addition to its patient-driven services, CareNow also provides a means for doctors to earn extra income. By becoming consultants via the platform, physicians can monetize the time they spend following up with their own patients and answering the questions that CareNow users ask. Moreover, the startup provides medical professionals with the unique opportunity to work with patients all across the Middle East. Participating doctors can even expand their medical knowledge by taking part in exclusive eHealth learning programs.
Entrepreneur Ziad Sankari formulated the idea for CardioDiagnostics after the death of his father, who did not have access to the care that he needed during a heart attack. The Lebanese native went on to obtain his engineering degree from an American university before establishing CardioDiagnostics. Through his startup, Sankari has created the first commercially available cardiac telemetry device. The wearable technology, called LifeSense, continuously monitors the wearer’s heart rate and other vitals so that it can immediately determine when abnormalities arise. In such cases, the device utilizes cloud technology to send the individual’s vitals and location to their doctor. As a result, patients are more likely to receive the care they need in time.
With offices in both Lebanon and the United States, CardioDiagnostics has garnered worldwide praise for its achievements in telemedicine. In 2011, the startup took first place in the US government’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Tech-I competition. Four years later, Sankari traveled to the White House to receive special recognition from President Barack Obama, who commended him for his innovative work.
Cura is taking the Saudi Arabian digital health sector by storm with its telemedicine services. Headquartered in Riyadh, the startup is aiming to build a healthcare system in which any Middle Eastern resident can access the best care when they need it most. Through the Cura app, individuals can peruse a list of 150 certified physicians and consultants who work within more than 30 medical specialties. Users can also view each doctor’s qualifications, work experience, and reviews. Cura then makes it easy for users to contact their chosen physician, allowing them to privately consult with them and send any pictures, video, or audio that will aid in diagnosis. Instead of having to wait a day to see a doctor, patients are able to obtain reliable medical advice within minutes.
In 2012, former marketing professional Sara Helou sought to revolutionize the Lebanese healthcare field after experiencing chronic backaches. When Google searches turned up no helpful results, she imagined a system that would allow patients to find and contact doctors directly online. With the help of a friend and two software designers, Helou debuted a directory of local physicians called MedHP. After successfully completing an acceleration program at Seeqnce in 2013, the team renamed their startup eTobb. “Tobb” is Arabic for “medicine.”
Since then, the company has built a diverse network of more than 1,000 qualified health professionals that individuals can contact at any time, from anywhere. Instead of needing to rely on the medical knowledge of their families and friends, users can ask health-related questions to real doctors directly through the eTobb mobile application, for free. In addition, users can pose questions anonymously, which makes it easy to inquire about any concern and receive a reliable response.