How digital transformation will reinvent health and wellbeing across the Middle East

AdobeStock 284765715The latest report by Arthur D. Little assesses the coming decade in healthcare and explores how technology can deliver optimal outcomes

The healthcare sector is undergoing a critical, data-driven transformation. Arthur D. Little, the management consultancy firm with the longest-standing presence in the Middle East region, explores emerging technology trend including issues around increased data-gathering in their latest report entitled Data-driven healthcare: Analysing the forces driving the transformation of healthcare. The viewpoint provides insights on data-driven healthcare drivers and details how important technologies will facilitate industry transformation over the next decade. 

The consultancy highlights that digital transformation in healthcare is the key to enhancing quality, boosting access, and driving efficiency. Moreover, it projects that clinical workflow will become more agile under Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics, ultimately automating decision-making processes while many important technologies reach mainstream adoption.

“As we look ahead to the coming years, the influence and impact of emerging technologies are already apparent. Because of the fundamental reform they deliver, a data-driven transformation is the first step in moving the industry forward,” said Vikas Kharbanda, partner and healthcare practice lead at Arthur D. Little Middle East.

“Big data is particularly significant for healthcare players due to the benefits it offers. It allows for more accurate staffing, standardised treatments, and fewer medication errors which will entirely re-imagine existing medical practices. Institutions at the earliest stages of their data-driven transformation journeys can take encouragement from various success stories where we have already seen emerging technologies implemented successfully across the Middle East.”

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is one such example, becoming the UAE’s first hospital to achieve Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Stage 7. This model measures and advances an organisation’s analytics, with Stage 7 meaning any given organisation has robust analytics capabilities and uses the technology meaningfully. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has established a data-driven culture to better serve patients and is using cutting-edge IT solutions to improve operations. For example, the clinic has leveraged various AI applications to enhance patient care and support clinicians during the ongoing pandemic. 

Similarly, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital (KKESH) is one of four hospitals nationwide to achieve the HIMSS Stage 7 rating. Following successful digitalisation, KKESH now analyses medical data to bolster decision-making and facilitate processes. Moreover, the institution has fully digitised medical records and clinical services.

“Numerous Middle Eastern hospitals are pioneers in data-driven healthcare, and have proven strong examples for others to emulate,” continued Kharbanda. “For all their success, though, it is important for every player to appreciate that focusing solely on new technologies will not be enough to achieve the transformation they seek and require.”

Eight drivers of data-driven healthcare that have been identified can yield positive and negative outcomes. The report details how technology trends provide an essential foundation for the next generation of innovations and examines the challenge behind making data relevant, actionable, available, and interoperable. Data security complexities, public-private partnerships, digital ecosystems, and skills development are all crucial ingredients for success, as well as taking into account patient participation and change management issues in the healthcare industry. 

“Admittedly, the patient care revolution is still in its infancy, and value creation will hinge on vast amounts of data being processed and secured to overcome challenges more quickly than was previously possible. However, the introduction of AI, big data analytics, and cloudification are three of the many aspects driving widespread optimism throughout the wider health sector,” concluded Dr Patrick Linnenbank, senior advisor at Arthur D. Little Middle East. “Although there are many obstacles to overcome on one side of the data-driven spectrum, the other end will present an array of opportunities, and the coming decade represents a period full of possibilities and potential for Middle Eastern healthcare as a whole.”

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