The COVID-19 pandemic forced countries to revamp their healthcare infrastructure, and the result is the emergence of digital health. The Middle East is also seeing the growth of healthtech startups, especially those in the telemedicine industry.
According to a report by Grand View Research, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) telehealth market size was valued at $2.6 billion in 2021. It is projected to grow at a CAGR of 26.3% between 2022 and 2030. Over the past two years, the healthtech sector has been at the receiving end of an influx of investment.
Altibbi, an end-to-end digital health platform that provides telemedicine consultation services, raised $44 million as a part of its Series B investment round this year. The round was led by DASH Ventures, Foundation Holdings, Global Ventures, and Hikma Ventures. This brings the total capital raised by the startup to $52.5 million. Altibbi allows patients to connect with doctors via audio calls and chats, 24×7. The startup circulates medical content in Arabic online. It was co-founded by Ayman Sharaiha, Hussein Abdelkarim, and Jalil Allabadi in 2010.
Okadoc raised a total of $10 million in a Series B financing round led by ADQ, Alesay Group, Bassem Ibrahim Hail Saeed, Builders Ventures, Bunat Ventures, Bupa Arabia, Club 49, iGan Partners, and Now Invest.
The startup was founded in 2018 by Fodhil Benturquia. It is a patient engagement platform that connects patients with healthcare providers and doctors. The platform enables patients to find doctors across specialities who accept their insurance as well as book appointments online, receive reminders, reschedule, cancel, etc.
The startup operates across the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
With the closure of the latest funding round, Okadoc’s total capital raise is $22.3 million
MENA’s healthtech focus
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and Kuwait are at the forefront of the healthtech boom.
The report by Grand View Research stated, “Advancements in healthcare systems are expected to bring digital health into action within these countries. Growing digital readiness and increasing expenditure on healthcare IT infrastructure in these countries are driving growth.”
By 2030, Saudi Arabia also intends to build medical facilities costing $13.8 billion. By 2030, the private sector involvement is to increase to 65% and receive $66.67 billion in investments into the nation’s healthcare infrastructure, according to Arab News.
The increasing life expectancy and booming population are among the leading trends driving the growth of the healthcare sector in the region.
A report by Consultancy-me noted that by 2026, healthcare spending will reach around 6% of the UAE’s overall GDP. Key trends driving this growth include accelerated use of technology, growth of local supply chains, growth of traditional, and complementary medicine, and the integration of healthcare and smart cities.
“There is tremendous potential for smart cities and the Internet of Things (IoT) to bring healthcare and patient empowerment into the home, workplace, and leisure spaces,” the report stated.
One reason behind the growth of the sector is tech-backed innovations and government support. A report by Gulf Today noted that by 2028, healthcare spending in the UAE will reach up to $26 billion.
Further, the country is also working towards strengthening medical tourism in the region.
According to Future Market Insights, the medical tourism market in the GCC countries is estimated to reach $6.6 billion in 2022. The sales are forecasted to increase at 10% CAGR during 2022-2032.
Annual investments in healthcare digital infrastructure in the GCC alone are expected to increase from $0.5 billion to $1.2 billion in 2023 and 2024, a report by Healthcare IT noted.
The region is ripe for growth with an increase in investment in the healthtech sector, and a number of startups are tapping into the boom.