Can this app streamline medical care in the MENA?

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When ill or recovering from an illness or operation, a patient often finds themselves tied to the hospital where they have received their treatment, in order to keep up to date with the status of their health. If they do change hospitals, or circumstances have forced them to continue their treatment elsewhere, like another country, they then face another problem: ensuring they can gather their medical records sufficiently. An attempt to address this issue can be found with Nabda Care, a medico-social platform that enables connectivity between patients, care providers, and personal medical records. 

Nabda Care’s integrated health service model, known as NabdaNet, was founded last year, by seven partners, including  Tamkeen Capital co-founder and managing partner Ihab El Fouly. The Egyptian fund has also invested in the service. They started in Egypt and then moved onto Kuwait and the UAE. During this period of expansion they have had participation from Philips, who have been selling Radiology Information Systems produced by Nabda Care. By the end of 2014 Philips will also be in partnership with Nabda Care working with their personal medical records systems, mobile phone apps and selling equipment under the title Original Equipment Manufacturer.

With 14 years in the fields of health and biomedical engineering IT, as well as at one point being the CEO of Zain, El Fouly is passionate about the marriage of health and telecommunication. “What prompted me to invest in this field were reports stating that mobile health was expected to become one of the biggest fields of business,” he says, “as well as estimates that showed that investments would reach billions of dollars within 10 years.” 

A social network

El Fouly compares Nabda Care to a social health network where patients, while confidential, are registered and can interact with, and get to know others with similar illnesses or ailments, then exchange information, advice and recipes. Similar to the health insurance system adopted in England and some American states, Nabda Care’s model allows patients to refer to a unified medical record. So successful has their work been so far, in 2012 they received the ‘Technology for Good’ prize for their Health Book application from Ericsson. 

A medical business boom 

Nabda Care is not alone in tackling the boom in the technological medical market. According to El Fouly medical business in the MENA region accounts for five and 8 percent however, the development almost never focuses on the patient themselves, rather the development of equipment and drugs, despite the fact that patient data is so important. 

Other projects include Altibbi.com, a comprehensive Arabic diagnosis platform that started as a medical dictionary and went on to include high-quality interactive education videos in Arabic; WebTeb and Sohati, which provide medical content; Clinical Fellows which connects Arab patients with veteran US doctors whom they can consult through the website.  

There are also Ekshef.com and DoctorUna.com, which allow users to search for doctors and book appointments. 

App-wise, there is Dr Bridge which allows doctors to run their clinics both financially and administratively; Vezeeta for online appointment booking with doctors; and appllist release by health company mHealth, offering high-quality medical information on smart phones. 

El Fouly developed a system that makes the medical record of any person available on any electronic device, including details on drugs that they have taken, illness’s they’ve had, and other details if they ever wish to change doctors. Additionally he also developed a holistic system of electronic software and mobile apps for different illnesses. 

When it comes to Nabda Care the devices they manufacture include those than can measure sugar and blood pressure, an electrocardiogram device, which are sold for companies that have contracts with NabdaNet for an integrated system, as well as personal medical records for patients saved online and various mobile apps for both Android and iOS relating to various types of medical information and advice for diabetes and hypertension patients and blood donors. 

Attracting businesses 

When it comes to Nabda Care’s customer base they are pursuing medical professionals as well as companies in the medical field. Rather than approaching patients directly they are taking a business-to-business lead, and one of their first partnerships has been with El Araby (an electronics manufacturer) to cover 18,000 workers in an El Araby factory complex in the Egyptian province of Benha. They are also working with insurance companies in Kuwait. 

At the moment the app is available in Egypt for 30 EGP (less than $5 USD). The apps are also available in Kuwait and Qatar, although their official launch is set to take place by the end of 2014, and will be limited to targeted communities where the company is operating. 

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