MENA region to develop mHealth

September 19, 2013 in Medical Technology

“With the exception of larger hospitals, mHealth services have yet to be activated,” says Abdulhameed Al-Khateeb, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at King Abdulaziz University (KAU) and founder and CEO of Technology Implementation and Management Experts (TIME). “To introduce such facilities, the majority of hospitals need to follow an electronic system similar to the ones at banks, where you can use a computer or a mobile phone to check your bank account.”

Al-Khatib said that MENA countries have been very active in mobile penetration and Internet usage. This, he says, will make it easier to develop and transform hospital systems to an online system.

“First doctors, nurses and health care professionals need to familiarize themselves with these electronic systems. The method has already been adopted by consultants and prominent doctors.”

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has released a report that indicates that Saudi Arabia tops the list of the highest number of mobile phone users worldwide, with a ratio of 188%. “The system sends appointment dates and hospital charges to a patient’s mobile phone through an online system,” said Al-Khatib. “We are working on it and are trying to link specialist hospitals with one another. Any respectable hospital needs to have an IT section to develop and take care of such e-medical facilities and hospital programs.”

Experts are hopeful that developing trends in the MENA region could facilitate more mHealth activities. Dr Ehab Wahaas, a consultant physician, said that there are severe healthcare resource shortages and that mobile digital technology can be a very efficient remedy to this. “It can help both patients and doctors by providing the information they need to make up-to-date decisions about health issues.”

“Health care is not far behind other economic sectors that have achieved enhanced results through the use of communications technologies (ICT),” says Wahaas.

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