The growing area of m-Health (mobile health), which combines medicine and technology, will include mobile applications such as prevention services, the provision of rapid and smart diagnostics for infectious diseases, patient self-management and educational tools.
There is much to be done yet in the field, especially in Saudi Arabia, but according to Dr. Turki Al-Anzi: “There is little activity so far in this important area, but things are changing. Mobile health technologies will be the key enablers of the digital transformation process of the current health care and delivery services in the Kingdom.”
“The Kingdom is currently striving to implement new strategies in the mobile health area as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 on Saudi citizen’s wellness and health care improvements,” Al-Anzi said.
Al-Anzi works with young undergraduates and postgraduates to teach them courses that will help them learn how m-Health can help in Saudi Arabia by enhancing health care in general and reducing costs.
He said: “I am working with my students to develop an app, the concept of which is going to be to spread knowledge and awareness about the disease.”
“These include, for example in diabetes care and many other chronic diseases, massive cost savings and the provision of better and more effective health care services to the patients. For diabetes alone, billions of riyals can be saved from the current cost of diabetes and its complications care costs by shifting to more preventative and digital stream care approaches.”
Asked about the process Al-Anzi said: “Applications can be downloaded on the affected patient’s phone; for example, in diabetes the patient can download the app and regularly measure their blood glucose (BG) levels at home or anywhere as prescribed by their physician.”
Apps are also useful to record the patients’ history and key information. Some applications can connect the patients to their doctors.
Doctors can keep tabs on their patients and if any change happens in the records the doctor can get in touch with the patient to give further instructions.
“Also, many smart mobile health devices and tools will be the norm in many of the health care services in the future, from the cardiovascular area in smart wearable heart (ECG) patch sensors that can predict adverse medical symptoms, for example any abnormal ECG arrhythmia for heart patients and send these via the smartphone before any serious episode to alert the health care providers and/or emergency care services using new smart predictive tools using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytic tools downloaded on their smartphones and connected wireless with these sensors.”
The future of the mobile health (m-Health) industry in the Kingdom is very promising. This is particularly important in creating a completely new economy IT sector (digital health economy), especially from small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and to boost the innovation economy in the Kingdom.
The Kingdom’s universities and academic institutions can play a major collaborative role in this process by creating strong and supportive R&D capabilities and in training and in graduating a new generation of digitally informed doctors and health care providers, business people etc.
Al-Anzi said: “However, this process needs further incentives from the government and a long-term vision to enable a rapid, efficient and effective digital health transformation process.”