Opportunities and Challenges in UAE Healthcare Operations

Opportunities and Challenges in UAE Healthcare Operations

Opportunities & challeges in UAE Healthcare operations


The UAE is recognized globally for its exceptional and efficient healthcare system, which is considered the best among all Gulf countries. With its world-class medical facilities, cutting-edge infrastructure and a multitude of quality public/ private healthcare establishments, the country is positioned as a premier medical hub on the global stage. As per Medical Tourism Index, Abu Dhabi and Dubai had emerged as two of the top 10 medical tourism destinations in the world in 2021. Moreover, the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC), in its Pandemic Resilience Index 2021, named the UAE as the second most resilient country in the world out of 40 nations.

Yet, this growing number of medical tourists, UAE’s rapidly increasing and aging population, along with a rise in chronic diseases has been driving the demand for quality health services in the country.

According to the World Bank, the population of the UAE is projected to show continuous increase from the year 2017 to 2030.

Million Year
9.4M Mid-2017
11.1M 2030

From the present time until 2030, the proportion of the UAE’s population aged 65 and above is expected to increase.

2023 2030
1.1% 4.4%

All these factors would further stimulate the demand for healthcare in the country in the near future. Recognizing this, health leaders in the UAE are actively revisiting their healthcare strategies and exploring smart ways to enhance their efficiency, profitability and competitiveness.

Very importantly, although the UAE handled the pandemic fairly well, there is no denying the fact that the country’s healthcare systems had come under immense pressure during the health crisis. The unprecedented event had shed light on the existing gaps in the country’s healthcare system, which prevents it from providing affordable and high-quality healthcare to the masses.

Firstly, there is a widespread shortage of skilled medical professionals including nurses in the country, which puts additional burden on the remaining staff and impacts their ability to impart high-quality patient

Secondly, healthcare in the U.A.E. is relatively expensive, and these costs are consistently on the rise.

Digitization can play a key role here, as it will not only address the system’s challenges of rising costs and staff shortage, but will also empower patients in a big way. The healthcare industry in the UAE had already embarked on its digitization journey well before the pandemic, although the pace was quite relaxed. However, the caregivers have now changed gears post the pandemic, investing significant amount of time, money, resources and efforts towards digitizing health service delivery in order to achieve higher levels of efficiency.

An Industry Overview

The UAE Government and the healthcare planners have expedited their tech agenda, swiftly embracing advanced techniques to build intelligent processes. Additionally, the UAE residents have displayed a significant inclination towards utilizing digital healthcare technologies owing to the ease, convenience and flexibility they offer.

The following key facts and findings highlight the ongoing digitization trend in the country –

  • The pandemic has enabled a rapid adoption of telehealth services. 67% of healthcare providers in UAE expect to use telehealth solutions at least five times more than in pre-Covid-19 times. Moreover, the UAE Telehealth Market is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 25% during the period 2023-28. (Report)




  • Electronic Health Records (EHR) has transformed the way patient information is stored and managed. The UAE EHR market size was valued at $152 Mn in 2022 and is estimated to expand at a CAGR of 17.5% from 2022 to 2030 to reach $552 mn in 2030. 


  • 90 per cent of doctors use smartphones and medical apps to provide services to their patients.


  • Remote Patient monitoring (RMP) has emerged as a key trend. The global RPM market size was valued at $769.2 million in 2020, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.6 per cent from 2021 to 2028. (Grand View Research’s report)

The above findings emphasize how healthcare leaders and the population in UAE are increasingly being inclined towards digitization. These discoveries also shed light on the numerous prospects available to enhance and optimize the country’s healthcare operations systems.

The Growing Importance of Connected Healthcare

The healthcare sector in the UAE, despite the increasing global interconnectivity, still faces significant challenges in achieving the required integration level for providing exceptional patient-centred care. Within the country’s healthcare system, certain barriers impede the establishment of a truly interconnected healthcare environment. Some of these barriers are listed below‑

  • Many healthcare institutions in UAE continue to rely on outdated legacy IT systems, which hinder their connectivity and modernization efforts.

  • Many of these organizations remain reluctant to embrace digitization due to their comfort with the old systems.

  • In rural areas, several healthcare organisations lack access to the latest technologies, which makes it difficult for them to establish connectivity.

  • The cost associated with implementing new technologies is a significant barrier to adoption, particularly for small healthcare organisations or those with limited budgets.

  • A massive amount of medical data gets generated each day, including data on patients, medicines, diseases, treatments, etc. Although some of this data is highly complex, certain healthcare institutions still rely on traditional, manual methods to manage this voluminous data. However, in order to boost efficiency, digitization of this data is crucial.

  • The lack of interoperability between different EHR systems makes it difficult for healthcare providers to share patient data effectively. This leads to potential errors, delays, and increased costs. To address these issues, it is crucial to implement standardised protocols for data exchange between EHR systems, which has become an urgent requirement in the industry.

Needless to say, embracing digital health initiatives and solutions can foster interoperability and connectivity, which would ultimately enhance the accessibility of healthcare services across the country. Through centralized data storage that enables smooth exchange of patient information, UAE can establish a highly efficient healthcare ecosystem that ensures superior levels of care.

Shortage of Healthcare Staff

The UAE has been witnessing an unprecedented surge in the demand for healthcare professionals, especially post the pandemic. However, the country has been facing a severe shortage of skilled healthcare personnel, particularly nurses, which it has been trying to overcome, while keeping the costs in mind. It is reported that the hospitals in the country have already allocated billions of funds to address the staffing shortage caused by the pandemic.

Developing a world-class healthcare system is crucial for the U.A.E. and stands as one of the main pillars of its national agenda. While it is essential to recruit technically proficient staff to meet the burgeoning healthcare demands, the country is also embracing technological innovation to optimize the productivity of its existing healthcare staff.

Implementing higher levels of automation can work wonders here by facilitating improved inventory management. Automation can reduce the administrative burden on the healthcare staff by streamlining healthcare workflows and eliminating repetitive tasks like data entry, manual patient registration, etc. As a result, they would be able to perform their roles more effectively, redirecting their valuable time towards higher-value tasks, such as delivering high-quality patient care.

Cost Savings

Another key challenge faced by UAE’s healthcare sector is the rapidly rising healthcare costs, a trend which is expected to persist in the future as well. This can be chiefly attributed to the escalating population growth, which is going to further increase the demand for healthcare resources in future. The country also relies heavily on the services of foreign healthcare experts in order to meet the soaring healthcare demand. Availing these expert medical services entails a considerable cost, which is an additional financial burden on the healthcare organizations. Additionally, the pandemic has severely affected the economic stability of these institutions, and although private hospitals in the country have recovered better from the pandemic’s impact than their public counterparts, each is still grappling with the consequences.

Clearly, these rising costs are imposing a grave financial burden on healthcare institutions, raising questions about their long-term sustainability. Combatting these price pressures is thus a crucial priority of the UAE health ecosystem, and the country is firmly committed to take the digitization route.

Among other digital initiatives, the adoption of EHRs can generate tremendous cost savings for the healthcare providers by way of better data management, reduced errors, faster decision-making, etc.


  • 62% of private healthcare providers in the UAE also plan on investing in cost-tracking solutions. This would help them carefully monitor costs throughout each step of their healthcare journey.

To facilitate efficient sharing of medical data in real-time, the UAE has recently introduced the National Unified Medical Record (NUMR) platform. This digital healthcare platform connects over 2,500 healthcare facilities, promoting standardization and streamlining of healthcare workflows nationwide. This initiative plays a pivotal role in encouraging efficiencies and reducing costs within the healthcare sector.

Gaining Efficiencies Through Automation

The healthcare system in the UAE has already adopted an active approach in digitizing its operations. The use of automation has empowered healthcare professionals to accurately update patient records and securely share critical information securely among providers, thereby improving communication. Easy and speedy access to patient health data has been assisting providers in taking quick decisions, which is ultimately improving the quality of their services.

Data plays a critical role in the healthcare industry, and if it is managed effectively and intelligently with the aid of technology, it can create breakthroughs in the industry. Through automation, all medical information can be captured instantly and a strong integration between all health departments and facilities can be seamlessly established. Also, by eliminating wasteful processes and lost productivity, it ensures increased efficiency and significant cost savings.

However, the challenge is to take automation to all the healthcare facilities across the country, even those situated in the remote corners. This would lead to the widespread establishment of healthcare connectivity. By achieving this, the country as a whole can elevate its healthcare status, while also reaping other significant benefits.

Future Outlook

Looking at the road ahead, it would be right to say that technology would serve as the backbone of efficient healthcare process in the UAE. Accelerated digitalisation along with increasing usage of data and analytics will effectively address the challenges faced by the healthcare system in terms of staff shortage and increasing healthcare costs. Consequently, it would foster rapid growth of the healthcare sector, enabling the UAE to compete globally in terms of healthcare quality.

Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge that patient expectations would continue to evolve alongside these advancements. The demand for personalised, digitized and integrated care experiences would certainly necessitate the development of a robust digital ecosystem for the health sector.

So, are you too willing to embark on the digitization journey for your healthcare facility? Or, are you looking to amp up your already existing digitization efforts? Or perhaps you are simply contemplating the use of technology?

Don’t worry! At MSB Docs, we are here to assist you in all your digitization endeavours. Our expertise can help you build a robust, efficient and resilient healthcare system, as we give you the access to the right tools and technologies.

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