Healthcare & Medicine
Healthcare IT seen growing at 25% CAGR
The health IT market is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 24 percent through 2014, according to a report. This overdue investment in IT is aimed squarely at the construction of a long-anticipated information backbone that will support improved care quality and cost reduction through enhanced connectivity and data analysis, said the report from RNCOS, a market research company. The developing health IT infrastructure, with its host of new applications, is ushering in the most intensely competitive era in the healthcare industry’s history, by sharply accelerating the industry’s clock speed. Charles H Fine of MIT’s Sloan School of Management used the term to describe the pace of business evolution within industries. He found that industries with faster clock speeds, such as computers and entertainment, had higher levels of market experimentation, more competition, and increasingly frequent waves of innovation. “This will be challenging for the healthcare industry, and for insurers in particular, who are used to a much slower pace of change,” said Dr. Walid Tohme, principal with Booz & Company, a leading global management consulting firm. “To succeed, they’ll need to look outside their sector for effective business models, and build new capabilities that support rapid product development, a consumer product mind-set, and expansion into adjacent markets.” The leading healthcare insurers will find that IT modernization will either expand their role as information aggregators — making them the primary engine for higher-quality, more cost-effective care — or enable new competitors to supplant them. Historically, insurers have not needed a strategy for responding in a fast-paced environment. Repeated waves of consolidation (which oriented insurers toward scale rather than innovation), complex regulatory requirements that varied by market, the competing incentives and targets of multiple stakeholders, and the slow adoption of information standards have created speed bumps that impeded innovation. The ambiguity in healthcare reform’s implementation may seem yet another reason for insurers to assume that the historical pace of the industry will continue. However, as health IT becomes more connected, precise, and prevalent, many companies will have to race to realize its potential. Insurers’ products have already begun to be smartphones will enable faster, more comprehensive data collection and more effective interventions. Existing competitors and new entrants will create real-time decision support tools to help providers and patients better manage care. Microsoft, for example, is exploring virtual care delivery, and medical device manufacturer Medtronic has developed Wi-Fi-enabled cardiac devices that allow doctors to remotely monitor and assist patients. Insurers, who currently control claims data and the valuable insights contained therein, will face a crucial point of reinvention as these advances and the companies that field them engage consumers, influence medical utilization, and seek a proportional share of the healthcare dollar. Health insurers looking for guidance on how to compete in a fast paced environment won’t find many examples within their own industry, but they can look to industries where the clock speed has long been fast and furious, such as online retailing. One excellent model for them to study is Amazon.com. Amazon has built a full-service, seamless vertical approach — including order fulfillment, recommendations, and customer service — around its core retail business over the past decade. Simultaneously, it has staked out beachheads in key horizontal platforms, becoming a partner to other vendors through Amazon Marketplace, e-commerce hosting, and Web services (home of its much-ballyhooed cloud computing business). These businesses generate additional revenues that are funneled back into R&D for Amazon’s core business. “This kind of approach could translate very well for healthcare insurers today, but to make it work, they will have to establish the proper balance between vertical and horizontal integration, and between control and speed. They will need a vertically integrated approach that keeps critical components under proprietary control to create differentiation,” said Jan Schmitz-Huebsch, a senior associate with Booz & Company. “At the same time, they will need strong horizontal capabilities that can be deployed in fast and flexible ways to help master accelerating product cycles. For example, insurers that decide to help physicians use HER data will need swift application development capabilities. That robust expertise could be deployed in multiple vehicles, such as cloud based computing to the physician’s desktop or to handheld devices, and for multiple purposes, for example, health analysis or prevention campaigns,” he added.
Source: TradeArabia News Service
Saudi women to take breast cancer war to Everest
Ten Saudi women will climb to the Mount Everest base camp in May as part of a campaign to raise breast cancer awareness. After helping set the Guinness World Record for largest human awareness ribbon, Princess Reema Bint Bandar Bin Sultan Al-Saud and Zahra Breast Cancer Association have teamed up to launch the program titled ’A Woman’s Journey: Destination Mount Everest‘, which is being held under the banners of Alf Khair and Al Bidayah Breastfeeding Resource and Women’s Awareness Center. The program, under the patronage of the Saudi Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, is also supported by Barclays Saudi Arabia and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic). Aiming to inspire Saudi women to stay physically fit and educate the public on the causes and effects of breast cancer, organizers have assembled a team of 10 Saudi females related to a breast cancer victim or survivor and between the ages of 25 and 50 to climb to the Mount Everest base camp between May 7 and 21. Several side events in the Kingdom will take place in conjunction with the main event and will seek to show that the fight against breast cancer is a global fight, said a statement. “Alf Khair and Al Bidayah are leading advocates for women’s causes in the Kingdom and we want NGOs, schools, universities, activists, the government and media to be a part of this campaign to form a network that not only builds awareness but helps us achieve our vision of having healthier and cancer-free Saudi women. I’m honored and proud to lend my voice to this collective group effort,” said Princess Reema, who is a founding member of the Zahra Breast Cancer Association. According to the Saudi Cancer Registry at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among Saudi women and around 8,000 cases are discovered each year of which 50 to 60 percent are diagnosed at a late stage. Despite government efforts, the rate of breast cancer has climbed from 7.6 per cent 10 years ago to its current high of 24 per cent of all cancer cases. Women over the age of 40 are at greatest risk and early diagnosis is crucial for increasing the chances of survival. “Breast cancer is on the rise in the Kingdom and early detection can prevent cancer. Women aged 40 and above should have an annual mammogram screening. Women in their 20’s and 30’s should be aware of their health and so they can seek medical advice early. Countless studies have shown that the earlier breast cancer is detected, the higher the chances of survival,” said Dr. Muna Baslaim, a breast surgeon and head of the Breast Unit at King Fahd General Hospital in Jeddah. “Women also need the support of society, family and friends in the fight against breast cancer,” she added. “The campaign’s goals are three-fold: Spread awareness, encourage greater participation and promote healthier lifestyles. The Zahra Breast Cancer Association is privileged that HRH Princess Reema has taken up such a noble cause and we hope this May, Saudi women will join us when we climb Mount Everest, walk for 15 minutes a day in support of the climbers and help spread awareness about this deadly disease,” said Ola Abbass Al-Marzouky, ’A Woman’s Journey: Destination Mount Everest' campaign spokesperson, general supervisor for Makkah Region office, Zahra Breast Cancer Association, and a breast cancer survivor.
Source: TradeArabia News Service
New foot and mouth disease strain hits Egypt
A new strain of foot and mouth disease (FMD) has hit Egypt and threatens to spread throughout Mena, jeopardizing food security in the region, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Thursday. There have been 40,222 suspected cases of the disease in Egypt and 4,658 animals, mostly calves, have already died, the FAO said in a statement citing official estimates. 'Although foot-and-mouth disease has circulated in the country for some years, this is an entirely new introduction of a virus strain known as SAT2, and livestock have no immune protection against it,' the Rome-based agency said. Vaccines are urgently needed as 6.3 million buffalo and cattle and 7.5 million sheep and goats are at risk in Egypt, the FAO said. 'The area around the Lower Nile Delta appears to be severely affected, while other areas in Upper Egypt and the west appear less so,' Juan Lubroth, FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer, said, calling for strong action to prevent the spread of the disease. FMD is a highly infectious and sometimes fatal disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals such as sheep, goats, cattle, buffalo and pigs. FMD is not a direct threat to humans. Meat and milk from sick animals are unsafe for consumption, not because FMD affects humans, but because foodstuffs entering the food chain should only come from animals that are known to be healthy, the FAO said. Egypt has some reserves of its own vaccines, but these do not protect against the SAT2 strain. The country could need regional support in mobilizing effective ones, the FAO said. With vaccines sometimes taking up to two weeks to confer immunity, joint efforts to boost biosecurity measures to limit the spread of the disease are urgently needed, said the FAO whose emergency team visited Egypt last week. Such measures include limiting animal movements and avoiding contact with animals from other farms; avoiding purchasing animals in the immediate term since they could have come from contaminated sources, preferably by burning carcasses.
Female Saudi scholar to develop portable MRI scanner
A female medical researcher from Saudi Arabia is planning to develop a portable MRI scanner in a bid to ease the process of diagnosing organ, bone and tissue diseases for people in the Arab world. Dr. Hayat Sindi, who was recently ranked number nine on the CEO Middle East list of most powerful Arab women, wants to make MRI scanning simple and cheap, particularly for older patients and those who have joint disorders. “I am writing the pattern at the moment,” she told Arabian Business in an interview. “There are so many people with arthritis and older people who struggle to get up on to the bed [to be scanned], and they are in a lot of pain. Especially if they don’t speak English. It can be very uncomfortable.” Most MRI scans take around 15-20 minutes to complete, and can be expensive. Sindi said her product aims to make the process more efficient, and should be available within three years. “It [MRI scanning] also takes a long time. This one is [very quick]. And it will be very cheap. Usually it takes an average of four-five years [to develop], or six if it’s complicated. But something like this it should take around three years.” Hayat Sindi, whose research into diagnostics and biotechnology is internationally recognized, is an advocate of affordable medicine. She began her career in the UK after acquiring a BSc degree in pharmacology from Kings College in London and a PhD in biotechnology from Cambridge University, for which she was awarded a scholarship. As the first female in Gulf to gain such qualifications, her first step was to found Sonoptix Technology with Saudi seed funding. Here she developed a tool capable of cheaply diagnosing breast cancer early on through its ability to detect single molecules. In 2006, Sindi was invited by Harvard University professor George Whiteside to join him and his team as a visiting scholar in Boston, and has since played a pivotal role in founding the non-for-profit company Diagnostics For All (DFA). The organization, which won business competitions at both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has since combined biotechnology and diagnostics research to create a new product able of detecting liver failure, which will be rolled out in third world countries. Sindi said the product was due to be launched in one of these countries very soon. “We are targeting developing countries first, and countries where patients have suffered from drugs taken for HIV and tuberculosis. That’s where you are going to make a difference, because they [often] suffer with liver failure. “I cannot say which country, [there are] three possible countries, but I cannot say which one.” Sindi has also recently begun another new venture, which involves helping young Arab scientists with their careers. The NGO, named the Institution of imagination and Ingenuity, aims to give opportunities to young local scholars by sponsoring their inventions, assisting them with their business plans and providing them with mentors.
Source: Arabian Business