It is a good time to be a patient in some Middle East and Africa countries.

Government authorities have named e-health a top priority and are backing up their words with solid financial support. As a result, public (and many private) hospitals and clinics are building up their IT infrastructure in order to facilitate patient information management and sharing and to create channels and touchpoints for patient administration and remote care and monitoring.

The results show in the numbers. According to data recently released by International Data Corporation (IDC), spending on IT among healthcare organizations is soaring in Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, and the UAE. Over the five-year period from 2012 to 2017, spending will jump by just under 10% annually. The purpose of the spending varies by country.

For example, in Saudi Arabia, IT spending is linked to modernization and expansion of hospitals and clinics, as the country aims to expand capacity by at least thirty thousand beds nationwide. In South Africa, remote outreach and edelivery are top priorities, as the number of qualified professionals in rural and poor areas has plummeted due to doctors seeking comfortable urban jobs in the private sector or heading abroad for more lucrative opportunities.

Additional highlights from the data about the four countries include:

  • * Healthcare is the second-fastest-growing sector after government in terms of IT spending.
  • * Saudi Arabia is the fastest-growing healthcare IT market, rising by around 11% annually.
  • * IT support services will be the fastest-growing services area, with spending soaring by around 13% annually in the combined four markets.
  • * IT services account for more than half of IT spending in the healthcare sector, largely due to a pronounced shortage of qualified IT professionals who are willing to work in hospitals and clinics.
  • * In software, spending on Clinical Information Systems will climb 11,5% annually (though this will still represent a relatively small portion of total spending).

“Governments in the four markets have all made great efforts and a real commitment to improving the quality of health services and the patient experience,” says Nino Giguashvili, senior research analyst for IDC Health Insights. “Make no mistake, there is still a long way to go to match standards found in world’s most developed markets, and there is a lot of room for missteps. Nevertheless, the current commitment will still help drive developments in hospitals and clinics and enhance the patient experience.”