Mobile health gaining momentum in Middle East

While the Middle East certainly has been a hotbed of political unrest these last few weeks, it's also been a hotbed for mHealth development. Several new projects indicate the Middle East may be a new frontier for mobile app and remote health software.

For instance, two Qatar-based companies, Mobile Health Company and Qtel Group, are partnering to offer health and wellness education via mobile phones. Another, UAE-based Etisalat, is joining up with Ericsson to create telehealth units that allow physicians to monitor patients remotely.

In another move, Qatar's Supreme Council of Health just announced it's launching a smartphone app--created in conjunction with IT and telecom companies--this summer for locating clinicians, physicians and other health resources in the country.

Even American firm Great Connection Inc., took a stab at this new market, debuting its Mobile Baby app last month in Egypt. The app enables ultrasound imaging and transport for pregnant women in remote areas.

This may just be the beginning. The Qtel/Mobile Healthcare Co. hookup is taking traditional telehealth systems, with ECG, BP, pulse, O2 sats, and other basic monitoring, and expanding it into other Middle Eastern countries, and even as far afield as North Africa and Asia, company officials say.

"With all the investment being made by Middle Eastern governments in IT infrastructure and software, in order to cope with these challenges, the potential for mobility and collaborative solutions to enable the transformation of healthcare delivery is enormous," said Harald Deutsch, VP of CSC Healthcare, whose company recently launched its Patient in Your Pocket app that allows for physicians to check appointments, dictate notes and perform other clinical chores via their smartphones.

Never forget that despite political upheaval you see on the news, these are relatively wealthy countries with advanced healthcare infrastructure. - Sara