Firstly, the UAE has considerable wealth mainly from oil revenue; second, the population is relatively small, although growing fast and; third, starting from a so-called ‘green fields’ base of relatively undeveloped healthcare a few decades ago, it has been in a position to study best practice and the latest technology and implement it without being weighed down by outmoded ways of doing things and legacy technology systems.
This technological leap-frogging has enabled it to jump over several stages of technological development and move rapidly to implement the most modern state-of-the-art healthcare technology available. The main driving force of this has been the Government’s concern for the health and welfare of the people of the country. With sufficient wealth and a small and generally young population who are only too willing to adopt new technology, it has been able to do this with relative ease – and continues to do so.
So, it comes as little surprise that the country came out on top of Philips’ Future Health Index report published last year, which measures countries’ perception of accessibility and integration of healthcare systems and the adoption of connected healthcare. The UAE leads the other countries on the index by a significant margin due to positive views on the current state of integration throughout the health system and patient and healthcare professional readiness to adopt technology.
However, the UAE’s healthcare system is not without challenges. The region is dealing with a number of healthcare burdens – some the same as in many other parts of the world – like rising incidence of heart disease and cancer – and coping with them with innovative use of technology, partnerships and initiatives. The UAE is also tackling more unusual challenges, such as a high incidence of congenital diseases due the large number of consanguineous marriages, as well as an explosion in the prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome due a rapidly changing lifestyle to one that is more affluent and sedentary.
Over the past decade there have been numerous healthcare tech innovations that have been implemented at the national and local level. Tech innovation generally and in healthcare specifically is high on the agenda of the Rulers of the Emirates, who continue to encourage its development through various incentives, initiatives and public-private partnerships.
These are just a few examples: