Internet of Things set to go mainstream in GCC Hospitals
By Polly Coleman
The internet of things (IoT) is quickly gaining momentum within the healthcare industry of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries.
There has been a gradual rise in IoT initiatives over recent years (according to IDC Health Insights) and in some usage scenarios, IoT services are maturing quickly toward mainstream deployment.
The firm anticipates IoT spending by healthcare providers across the Middle East and Africa to go well over $500 million in 2016, and grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.7 percent between 2016 and 2020. The GCC will be one of the quickest-growing regions within the Middle East and Africa, with IDC Health Insights forecasting that IoT spending in the GCC will increase by over 20 percent per year in some segments of the healthcare industry.
The present epidemiological trends and systemic gaps in GCC healthcare markets provide good reasons for trying IoT in virtually any area of healthcare. However; hospitals are currently ahead of the curve in terms of IoT adoption. According to a recent survey conducted by IDC Health Insights in hospitals across Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, as many as 50 percent of them are currently using some type of IoT-based solutions.
Mirroring the global trends in healthcare and other industries, IoT-enabled solutions are emerging fastest in the tracking and monitoring of people and assets (patients, staff, and various medical "things"), using technologies such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) and barcoding. However, the uses are anticipated to broaden in terms of supporting care delivery, especially in the areas of monitoring hospitalised patients, and "smart" systems for pharmacy management. Although still at a nascent stage, telehealth systems and systems for remote patient monitoring are also gaining more attention, particularly in Saudi Arabia where the gaps in healthcare coverage are more pronounced due to the country's large size and its lack of medical facilities and specialists in remote areas.
In the consumer segment, personal wellness represents one area with great IoT deployment potential. The GCC personal wellness wearables market (according to the latest projections by IDC Health Insights) will increase at a compound annual growth rate of roughly 22 percent over the next few years.
"While health, wellness, and fitness wearables have become a fashionable way of supporting healthy lifestyles among consumers, healthcare payers and providers are striving to benefit from the possible cost savings arising from their potential preventive value. Health authorities across the GCC are increasingly promoting their use as a method of encouraging healthy lifestyles. For example, the Dubai Health Authority has initiated an incentive program aimed at rewarding residents for healthy behaviour that is based on data recorded by fitness trackers." - Nino Giguashvili, a senior research analyst IDC Health Insights.
IoT has already passed the "why" stage and moved onto the "how" stage in many of the areas of possible use in GCC markets, according to IDC Health Insights.
IDC Health Insights helps health businesses and IT leaders (as well as the suppliers that serve them) in making more effective technology decisions by providing fact-based research and consulting services.
International Data Corporation (IDC) is the leading global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the IT, telecommunications and consumer technology markets. It has over 1,100 analysts worldwide and offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries.
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