The GCC healthcare market is exploding with opportunity, especially for providers of digital health products and services.

Population growth, an aging demographic, increased lifestyle diseases and a focus on medical tourism are working together to create an urgent need for better options to deliver healthcare in the GCC. Decision-makers in these regions are looking for private sector companies to join the GCC healthcare market – with a recognition that digital health is an essential component of progress. 

Consider the following eleven reasons why this is the best time for your digital health business to enter the GCC healthcare market:

1. Population Growth

There is tremendous population growth occurring and predicted to continue within the GCC, thereby increasing the need for healthcare services, as well as digital health solutions in this region.

Saudi Arabia is expected to be the largest healthcare market in the GCC with an expected population growth of 3 million over the next 5 years and Qatar is expecting a potential influx of expatriates to support the World Cup 2022 projects. These factors support recent reports that the Muslim population is growing at twice the rate of the rest of the world’s populations.

2. Aging Demographic

The GCC is not only growing faster than the rest of the world, the GCC aging population is increasing as well, with the 45-65 and 65+ age groups expected to grow cumulatively by an average of 6 percent between 2011 and 2020.

This aging population will increase the burden on the healthcare system, so the need to expand, enhance technology and increase access to care will be essential.

3. Increased Lifestyle Diseases

Unfortunately, modernization carries its own risk factors. Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer are plaguing this region, with the GCC experiencing the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world.

These issues will continue to increase the need for healthcare access, which translates to the need for a variety of new services.

4. Medical Tourism

It’s a US $50 billion global industry, and a trend that’s gaining popularity in industrialized economies.

A resource that helps patients receive healthcare treatments at more affordable rates, medical tourism is also known for providing better quality of care – a factor the GCC Ministries of Health are emphasizing. 

The offering of low-cost, quality services compared to other developed nations should create a large market share for the GCC’s healthcare sector within the global medical tourism market.

5. Increased Purchasing Power

GCC governments plan to invest in the GCC IT healthcare sector at a rate that exceeds US $550 million by 2015 to increase quality initiatives and support networks – and they’re increasingly recognizing that they can’t meet these needs alone.

The GCC governments are looking for private sector healthcare partners, to help them meet their strategic goals.

6. Mandatory Health Insurance

Mandatory health insurance initiatives are being planned in several regions.

GCC governments are recognizing the need to scale back on the extensive funding they provide for consumer healthcare services, and are looking to mandatory health insurance as a viable option.

This will increase access to healthcare, increase healthcare consumption, and drive the need for increased services in the region.

7. Increased Usage of the Internet and Social Media

Social media use in the GCC is exploding, and this can only mean good things for digital health providers. According to the 2013 Arab Social Media Report,

“The exponential penetration rates and the creative adoption of social media in the Arab region have opened new horizons for multifaceted innovations by individuals and developmental uses by government entities and unleashed new social trends by different forces in Arab societies. Social media technologies today are increasingly being acknowledged by different Arab government organizations as core enablers for inclusive policy formulation and better service delivery on an institutional level.”

8. Desire to Improve Healthcare Standards

The healthcare infrastructure in the GCC is weaker than that in other developed countries, and governments in the region want to change that.

With an increased commitment to improve the quality of healthcare standards, there is an ongoing trend to improve services for their own citizens, as well as attracting those from outside the country who seek care through medical tourism.

9. Increased Use of Clinics and Ambulatory Care Centers

Clinics and ambulatory care centers are attractive to investors due to the decreased capital investment required and more efficient return on investment.

Consumers like this option because those who live in outlying areas have better access to healthcare services.   

10. GCC Governments Are Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

The emergence of lifestyle-related diseases is creating a great financial burden for the healthcare sector, so GCC governments are emphasizing preventative health initiatives in an attempt to impact this growing healthcare crisis.

Consumers are responding by showing an interest in improving health. With the increased use of technology in the region, there is an excellent opportunity to empower the public to take control of their own health outcomes.

11. Technology Use Increased in Healthcare

Both in the GCC and across the globe, the healthcare IT market is growing at exponential rates due to the need to decrease healthcare costs and meet the demand for more effective, efficient, and error-free healthcare delivery. The parallel growth of healthcare IT and technology usage in the GCC creates an excellent opportunity for digital health providers to enter this market.

Consumers in the GCC need increased access to quality healthcare. Governments in the GCC are committed to providing it. They are seeking partnerships with private sector companies who can provide digital health products and services with excellence and integrity.

With this massive opportunity at your doorstep, now is the time to cross the threshold into the GCC healthcare market to make a difference – and a profit.