Technology is rapidly revolutionizing the way patients access healthcare across the globe.
Catalyzed by the global Covid-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry adapted its services to secure the safety of patients and doctors while ensuring the maintained provision of essential services. As healthcare providers switched to offering services on digital platforms, tech companies have capitalized on the growing demand for online healthcare services in a changing world.
HealthTech apps empower patients to consult with doctors, access prescriptions and discover advice about conditions and treatment options without leaving their homes.
These typically occur via video conferencing or instant messaging across internet-connected devices. Despite the easing of the pandemic and restrictions around the world, patients will continue to leverage the convenience of digital healthcare as we move into the future. One survey conducted in the US found that 67% of healthcare providers surveyed predicted that they’d use TeleHealth five times more than they did pre-pandemic.
In this article, we’re taking a look at the current state of TeleHealth in Saudi Arabia and providing you with five key case studies of companies leading the digital healthcare revolution.
How Saudi Arabia is digitalizing healthcare
Saudi Arabia and other counties in the Middle East are embracing digital transformation in healthcare. The telemedicine industry in the Middle East is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 10.80% from 2021 to 2026 to reach an estimated USD 6.44 billion.
We’re living in a golden era of information and communications technology. As the world embraced technology in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, myriad industries including healthcare, education, finance, and manufacturing shifted their operations to facilitate a digital environment where people could carry on accessing key products and services during nationwide lockdowns. The Middle East was no exception.
Saudi Arabian healthcare providers leveraged vital technologies like video conferencing, instant messaging, and AI to continue meeting patients' needs in trying times. Not only were they able to provide telemedicine services for diagnosing and treating ailments, but they also developed various educational resources to aid the advancement of medical education across the globe, equipping professionals and patients with the knowledge they needed to make important healthcare decisions.
Convenient patient access isn’t the only benefit of telemedicine. Providers also benefited from reduced operational costs, additional support, and reduced commute for healthcare professionals. Although Saudi Arabia is on par with other Middle Eastern countries such as Kuwait and the UAE when it comes to digital healthcare, other countries in the region such as Yemen and Syria are suffering as a result of discrepancies in terms of quality of life, healthcare, and education.
Top 5 HealthTech companies in Saudi Arabia
1. Cura Healthcare
Cura was the first company in the Middle East and Turkey to offer telemedicine and medical consultations via live chat and video calls on their app.
Headquartered in Riyadh, it’s the largest platform in Saudi Arabia and has over 150 doctors on its platform serving up to 430 medical consultations a month. Cura also offers 24/7 service to patients, so they can access efficient and convenient care whenever they need it. With doctors specializing in a range of medical fields, their specialists offer care for treating colds and flu, allergies, skin and eye issues, depression and anxiety, urgent care, and more.
One service offering that sets Cura apart from other telemedicine providers is its wellness programs. Patients can work with doctors, therapists, and specialists on a weekly basis to achieve specific goals leading to a healthier lifestyle. These goals can include things like weight loss, diabetes management, social phobia management, anxiety treatment, and more.
In 2021, Cura Healthcare secured $15 million from local investors as they worked to expand their telehealth services during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Their co-founder and chief technology officer Mohammad Zekrallah commented:
"We have seen tremendous month-over-month growth during the lockdown and we can’t wait to keep innovating our technology and services to help people in need live their healthiest and most convenient lifestyle we can possibly offer them [...] It’s definitely exciting times for the digital health industry in the region nowadays, especially post Covid-19 pandemic."
In terms of how Cura is using digital marketing to promote their services online, they’re doing a pretty great job! Cura’s digital marketing strategy combines social media marketing and content marketing (they publish regular blog posts and in-depth resources for patients) to provide their clients with valuable and informative content about accessing their services, as well as general advice for medical problems and uncertainties.
As the world slowly moves away from the depths of the global pandemic, Cura has established itself as a modern TeleHealth provider that’s set to remain a go-to option for patients in Saudi Arabia seeking convenient and professional medical help.
Nala is a Saudi Arabia-based health tech company that was launched in February 2019. Since its debut, Nala has quickly become one of the region’s leading providers of digital healthcare services.
The platform is one of the first to use artificial intelligence to provide patient diagnoses in seconds in the Arabic language. By speaking with a virtual assistant, patients can get instant assistance when they need it the most. Nala’s AI offering is set to complement its current digital healthcare service, which has provided 50,000 people with personalized healthcare through its apps. The platform’s development involved dozens of doctors and physicians licensed by the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties to ensure extreme precision and negate human error when diagnosing patients.
By bringing AI technology into the healthcare field, Nala is attempting to widen the field for accessibility when it comes to TeleHealth services. Through the app, anyone can access immediate services via the virtual assistant, no matter where they are. In this way, the team behind Nala is trying to break down the financial barriers to quality healthcare in Saudi Arabia, providing sustainable care.
Founder and CEO of Nala, Othman Abahussein, commented: "Our mission is to reduce the cost of healthcare by tenfold while providing exceptional healthcare experience."
Mawidy is an innovative platform that’s doing something similar to Nala. The app provides technical solutions for healthcare using AI to facilitate better and more equal access. The goal of this platform is to provide patient centred healthcare through a simple and high-quality user experience.
Mawidy is part of the Sanad Initiative, which was created by a group of healthcare professionals who believed they had a responsibility to help patients during the Covid-19 pandemic, who then volunteered their services to citizens and residents through the app.
The initiative aims to address current challenges facing the healthcare industry in Saudi Arabia. These include difficulty finding health services at the right time, exposure to diseases during hospital or clinic visits, geographical barriers to care, high cost of treatment in the private sector, and limited access for large portions of society.
Intending to promote healthcare equality throughout the community, Mawidy allows patients to access remote consultations, book appointments online, and access home medical care at the tap of a button. One of the main focuses for Mawidy is providing healthcare education and increasing awareness through their online digital library of resources and videos addressing major concerns and exploring a safe return to life after the pandemic.
YNMO has been offering a range of care management solutions for patients with special needs since 2017. They provide a range of well-known assessments and curriculums to improve clinical evaluation, guide special education, and a range of other therapeutic services. Although this app traverses the fields of health tech and educational tech - it’s definitely doing some important work.
Their end-to-end solution is designed to help users monitor individualized education problems for those living with special needs conditions. Additionally, they help with monitoring data and report generation to assist healthcare professionals.
The YNMO platform isn’t limited to covering certain specific disabilities. It covers a range of disabilities, making it a suitable tool for schools, hospitals, and clinics operating in both English and Arabic. In 2020, YNMO was featured as a global innovator at the Dubai UAE Expo.
Labayh is another virtual health app offering remote mental health services for patients. There’s a huge stigma surrounding mental health in Saudi Arabia. This stigma contributes to many Saudi people not seeking out mental healthcare services when they need support - a challenge that Labayh aims to address.
In Saudi Arabia, approximately 77% of people said that they or someone in their family has experienced a mental health condition at some point in their lives. Despite this, 80% of Saudis suffering from mental health conditions do not seek treatment according to the 2019 Saudi National Mental Health Survey.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the prevalence of anxiety and depression around the world increased by 25%. This increase was also felt significantly in Saudi Arabia.
With the rise of TeleHealth solutions during the pandemic, it was also necessary for psychotherapy services to go remote. Labayh is the leading provider of mental healthcare in Saudi Arabia, tackling the stigma around discussing mental health by providing patients with access to psychologists and psychiatrists anonymously via texts and phone calls.
The company experienced a huge surge in demand for mental health services, with their 120 practitioners carrying out 25,000 consultations in 2020 alone. In an interview with Arabian Business, Labayh CEO Basin Albeladi commented:
“There has been a huge spike in patients following corona. All of a sudden our living accommodations also became the places where we work and study not to mention the stress of dealing with the economic and job uncertainty the country was passing through during the pandemic.”
In addition to providing live support to patients experiencing mental health issues, Labayh also offers a range of free content to help patients find support and solve their problems from home, without having to feel uncomfortable about visiting an in-person clinic. Moreover, their anonymous approach provides greater accessibility to people who live outside the country’s major cities where there are fewer in-person sites available.
How YourTarget can help you develop a successful HealthTech digital marketing strategy
Are you a HealthTech company operating in Saudi Arabia? Central to the success of any digital platform is a great digital marketing strategy. Patients have more choice than ever before to choose which TeleHealth providers they want to place their trust and confidence in - so you need to stand out from the crowd.
As an increasing number of patients turn to Telehealth services instead of in-person options for the added convenience they provide - it’s essential to have a healthcare marketing strategy that not only attracts new patients but keeps existing ones engaged and informed.
Working with a digital marketing agency like YourTarget that specializes in digital marketing for TeleHealth apps is a must. We can help you increase your online visibility, cement your reputation among clients, deliver a great customer experience, and much more.
Ready to find out more? Download the YourTarget eBook focusing on digital marketing trends in the Middle East.