Opportunities, trends and emerging growth in UAE healthcare

 

The UAE's healthcare industry remains one of its fastest-growing sectors, evidenced by the growing number of hospitals and clinics across the country. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a momentous impact on all aspects of the industry, paving the way for increased expenditure to meet high consumer demand.

According to the KPMG report, with the UAE's vision of a digital-first economy, the healthcare sector in the country will see considerable expenditure in digital transformation, technology and AI- and IoT-based solutions.

This will be supported by added investments into care facilities for transplants and single specialty specialised centres for attracting medical tourists.

Another area identified as having huge potential is wellness and prevention, which will see major investments in future, with a focus on ageing.

The KPMG report highlights the growth of private investment in the sector. The UAE government has been the primary investor in the country's healthcare sector. In 2019, it funded 69% of the country's total healthcare expenditure of US$16 billion. From 2018 to 2022, private sector healthcare spending is forecast to increase faster than government expenditure.

The report identifies the dynamics that are likely to be crucial to understanding the future of the UAE's healthcare sector.

Inbound medical tourism to the UAE been growing steadily, the report suggests, with visitors seeking treatment ranging from major surgery to rehabilitation to cosmetic corrections.

Digital and remote healthcare systems that help patients monitor their health will be the future focus.

Some of the key drivers for increased private investment are the demand for niche specialties, the rising emergence and support for public-private participation, and increasing demand for treatment and hospital beds in an ageing population. The privatisation of hospitals and mandatory medical insurance, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, will encourage spending and contribute to a more integrated health system.

While the UAE's healthcare infrastructure is rapidly improving, some specialties remain under-served, such as maternity, paediatrics, elderly care, fertility, one-stop primary care centres and diabetes.

Given the increased occurrence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes in the UAE, there is an opportunity for relevant primary care offerings such as neighbourhood day care centres for initial diagnosis and treatment.

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