For years, healthcare industry observers have recognized the Middle East’s potential for leadership in the realm of digital health. As lifestyles change and diseases such as diabetes become more prevalent across the region, the Middle East’s healthcare sector must be able to accommodate patients’ shifting needs and demands.
To best meet these needs, healthcare organizations throughout the region have turned their gaze toward innovation. This trend has given rise to a number of groundbreaking startups that are making it easier for patients to seek care and to manage their health.
Here are a few of the digital startups that are helping patients stay healthy in the Middle East:
Ver2 Digital Medicine
In 2017, Ver2 Digital Medicine became one of three UAE-based startups to receive a grant as part of the Expo 2020 Dubai. The e-health startup first made an impact on the MENA healthcare industry after debuting its business-to-business medical connectivity services.
Unlike traditional telemedicine firms, Ver2 does not offer medical devices or software. Instead, the startup delivers “digital experiences” that connect healthcare workers, caregivers, and patients. One of Ver2’s most groundbreaking services is Tele Diagnostics, which connects diagnostics workers via a digital platform. Other services include Tele Medical Education, which provides students with educational content and a way to connect with teachers; and Tele Monitoring, which allows physicians to monitor their patients’ condition remotely, through biosensors.
Health at Hand
A Dubai-based telemedicine startup, Health at Hand is creating new avenues through which patients can seek medical care. Since 2015, the startup has operated a platform that facilitates live video appointments between patients and qualified physicians. By making these services available on mobile devices, Health at Hand helps patients avoid waits for an appointment and allows them to access the care they need from any location.
Health at Hand’s qualified physicians can provide treatment solutions for patients with non-emergency medical problems. During consultations, physicians work with each patient to develop the most effective treatment for their condition, so that they can feel better more quickly.
The team at Medisafe is revolutionizing the world of medication for patients across the Middle East and beyond. Founders Omri and Rotem Shor formulated the idea for the startup after their father took a double dose of insulin by error. To help patients like him adhere to their medication regimens, the brothers created a digital platform that acts as a pharmaceutical manager. The platform allows users to review their medications, dosages, and schedules and sends reminders, so that they never miss a dose and never take more than they should. For healthcare providers, the platform can provide invaluable data about patients’ adherence to medication schedules, comorbidities, and other critical information.
Headquartered in the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre, MedsConnect is making it easier for patients to manage their medical conditions. With its mobile application, the startup allows users to record information about their health and securely review it at any time. By accessing these records on their mobile devices, patients can easily share their medical history with healthcare providers.
Prescription management is another key feature that MedsConnect provides to its users. Medical practitioners can use the app to inform their patients of critical prescription details, such as how long they must take the medication, what dosage they should take, and if they should eat a meal with their dose. MedsConnect can even provide reminders so that patients don’t forget to take their prescriptions.
The Cairo-based Shezlong has created an online platform through which people can seek treatment for mental health conditions. In affiliation with the International Society for Mental Health Online, the startup connects individuals to licensed therapists in only a few steps. First, patients choose a therapist using Shezlong’s online search feature. After inputting search parameters such as medical specialty, location, and cost of treatment, users receive a list of therapists that could meet their needs. Next, patients reserve a therapy session based on the availability of their chosen therapist. After that, they can meet privately and securely with the therapist via videoconference or messaging on the Shezlong mobile app.
Entrepreneur and general surgeon Fahad Alqrallah established CureLines to provide better medical information online, and to connect patients and physicians. For general health information, users can browse through the CureLines medical library or read one of its many articles on health and wellness topics. In addition, they can post specific questions and receive answers from experienced physicians from across the globe.
CureLines also serves as a forum through which doctors can expand their own medical knowledge and connect with peers. Moreover, the site allows physicians to publish their own research, articles, and resumes for the online community to see.
Serving users in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, Vezeeta is making it easier for patients to find healthcare providers and book appointments. Instead of looking for physician recommendations from friends and family, patients can use Vezeeta to reach doctors in their area with little hassle.
Using the site’s search feature, users can input their location, type of insurance, and the type of medical specialist they wish to see. Vezeeta then provides a list of available doctors and patient reviews. Upon choosing a doctor, users can instantaneously book an appointment with him or her. This not only eliminates the need for patients to waste time waiting for available appointments, but it also reduces the time they spend in the waiting room.