Dubai, UAE — 5 October 2020: According to Emirati entrepreneur and general manager of operations for global real estate development company DAMAC Properties, Ali Sajwani, the COVID-19 pandemic is driving demand for healthcare ‘super apps’ in the UAE.
Sajwani, who has led the digital transformation within DAMAC, is calling for entrepreneurs and SMEs throughout the UAE to channel their creativity and innovation into accelerating the development of a healthcare super app to enhance the wellbeing and health of the nation.
Super apps offer online messaging, social media, marketplaces, and other services under one umbrella. In emerging markets, super apps such as China’s WeChat and India’s Paytm and PhonePe are already transforming the services ecosystem. WeChat, for example, is one of the leading social networks, with 1.25 billion monthly active users worldwide in Q2 2021, according to Statista.
In healthcare, although super apps are still in their embryonic stage, medical devices are getting smarter by the day with iWatch, Fitbit, BLE heart rate monitors, pulse rate monitors, diabetes checkers and many more devices providing a detailed insight when paired with mobile apps.
Medical health records are also easier to manage online and accessible to the doctors as well as the patients, up and down the country.
According to Dubai Health Authority (DHA), 30% of the Emirate’s population is either diabetic or pre-diabetic and 27.8% of the adult population is overweight. Healthcare super apps have the potential to empower patients to make better lifestyle choices and offer better access to healthcare professionals.
By encouraging daily self-management and providing routine follow up care, super apps can offer a holistic approach to health and wellness where healthy behaviour is incentivised, and communication with practitioners is streamlined.
“Super apps have the potential to revolutionise the healthcare sector by adopting an approach that offers convenience and simplicity to patients. There is an increasing need for on-demand healthcare solutions that goes hand in hand with the increasing awareness and health consciousness among consumers,” said Sajwani.
“As super apps are slowly finding their way into Western markets, the time is right for the UAE to engage its entrepreneurial spirit and accelerate the development of one single mobile app solution.
One that provides a high level of convenience for patients, allows for data sharing across platforms and service providers, and eliminates the complex processes and procedures involved in managing healthcare,” he added.
The UAE ranked first regionally in the 2020 Global Innovation Index and has taken several steps to promote and encourage innovation, in line with the ‘United in Knowledge’ pillar under the country’s Vision 2021. For example, the recently announced Emirates Development Bank Strategy provides AED 30 million in support for the UAE’s startups and SMEs, which form the backbone of the country’s business ecosystem.
Incubators such as the Dubai Future Accelerators initiative were created specifically to enable rapid deployment of transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, biotechnology and 3D printing.
Meanwhile, Smart Dubai, which plays host to many emerging technology-backed applications is working with the Dubai Health Authority on a smart inventory app that allows users to process warehousing transactions and track the supply chain for medicines from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet, or any portable device.
Having inherited an entrepreneurial mindset from his father Hussain Sajwani, the founder of DAMAC Properties, Ali Sajwani is also the founding board member of Emirates Angels Investors Association.
This non-profit organisation aims to positively contribute to the early-stage investment ecosystem, through its investor network and works side by side with start-ups and the relevant authorities, to create the best investment environment possible.
“With the global mHealth market size estimated to reach US$166.2 billion by 2028 (*), it is too big to ignore. Therefore, start-ups and entrepreneurs in the UAE should consider channelling their energies into playing a more prominent role in this market, by becoming invaluable players in the super app space,” Sajwani concluded.