Arab Health Expo 2009

Bucking the trend
Industry leaders remain upbeat despite economic gloom

The Arab Health exhibition in Dubai in January stood as a beacon of light in the darkness as negative economic sentiment cast a gloomy pall over much of the world’s industrial landscape. The Middle East health industry seemed immune to the crisis as thousands of visitors streamed into a packed exhibition centre. Middle East Health spoke to some of the world’s leading healthcare companies at the show and all were surprisingly optimistic about the future of the industry in the region.

The Arab Health expo in Dubai in January seemed unaffected by the gloom that had descended on much of the world as a result of the global financial meltdown. Visitors flooded through the doors of the International Convention and Exhibition Centre which was jammed full with some 2,300-odd exhibitors from more than 70 countries. The atmosphere was remarkably upbeat.

As with all these large exhibitions, an overwhelming array of innovative medical devices and services were on show. There were 30 country pavilions, making this a truly international event and one that has certainly made its mark on the world stage of medical exhibitions, rivaling the likes of the vast Medica in Germany and the big China Medical Equipment Fair.

What’s more, such large exhibitor presence and attendance figures – the first day attendance was reportedly up 20% on 2008 – is a very strong indicator of the importance this region commands within the global medical industry. For the past several years it has been the fastest growing growth market in the world and many key people in the industry expect it to continue showing growth – albeit slower – despite the economic recession being experienced in the industrialised countries.

Middle East Health spoke to key people at GE, Siemens, Philips, Carestream and others and all said they remained optimistic about the outlook for the healthcare industry in this part of the world. Some said they would go against the grain and invest more in the region, rather than cutting back.

Siemens investing knowledge

Maurice Faber, Vice President Siemens Healthcare Middle East and West Asia, told Middle East Health in response to a question whether the company was making any contingency plans to ward off the effects of the economic downturn: “We are investing more. We are increasing our knowledge, our people with knowledge. We are reinforcing our teams rather than laying-off people.”

He said he expected the Middle East market to keep growing. “There is still population growth in the Middle East. An increasing population requires infrastructure,” he said, adding, “They have good quality products, but they are getting more specialised and require specialised equipment for this. “As hi-tech equipment becomes more important so does the application software. This is now very important and you have to know how to use it and to be able to choose the right application for the right diagnosis. We see this – training and education – as one of our obligations,” Faber said, adding that the company was committed to the region with more than 4,300 Siemens employees here.

Philips positive

Middle East Health spoke to Diederik Zeven, General Manager Middle East, Philips Healthcare, who said the company had a positive outlook for the region despite the current global economic crisis.

“I see two things ahead,” he said. “First, there is the need to continuously invest in healthcare, which is understood and, second, if you look at the regional demographics, such as age and disease patterns [that are key drivers of investment in healthcare] – they are still there, no matter what the economic circumstances.”

He pointed out that as the population ages there will be many more older people with chronic diseases. “Building more and more hospitals or clinics is not the solution. The solution is to keep them at home with home-based healthcare.”

And this is what Philips showcased at their dedicated ‘home healthcare’ booth at Arab Health

“Here in the Middle East we have excellent opportunities to learn what is going on now in Germany, the US and other mature countries. This will enable this region to make major leaps forward. Two years ago we showed the Ambient Experience at Arab Health, this year we are showing the first homecare systems like homecare monitoring, for example.

“I don’t think the adoption of this technology is far off. Governments here will soon start saying, ‘yes this is also part of the solution’.”

He said he expected governments here to continue to invest in healthcare, “although they are facing a critical issue – a shortage of skilled healthcare workers.

“I think they will start looking at how they can overcome this with technology and start looking at leading institutions in Europe and the States to see how they do it – how are they using technology to address the needs in the healthcare system.

“This situation is not unique to the Middle East. In mature markets they are also facing a shortage of skilled healthcare workers,” Zeven said.

At their main booth Philips exhibited a wide range of products from their portfolio. One of these included the global launch of their new price-sensitive ultrasound scanner – the HD7 – reviewed on page 31.

Zeven pointed out that the company had had an excellent past year in the Middle East. “Specifically, our iSite PACS – the web-based PACS that is delivered on a fee-perview model – has been very successful in the UAE market. We have signed contracts with Tawam hospital in Al Ain, the Abu Dhabi Health Authority and subsequently with Sheikh Khalifa Medical Center in Abu Dhabi.

“We also have contracts for iSite PACS with Al Zhara Hospital and New Medical Centre – two private hospitals in Dubai.” Philips Healthcare’s Ambient Experience suites are proving popular with hospitals in the region, which is understandable as their benefits are manifold, particularly the way the ambient lighting and sound reduce patient stress, in many cases to such an extent, that sedation is no longer required.

The first one in the region is up and running in Shekh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi (reviewed in Middle East Health – Nov-Dec 2008 issue). Another suite is operational in King Faisal Specialty Hospital in Riyadh and several others are being installed in hospitals across Saudi Arabia, as well as one Hadi Clinic in Kuwait City.

GE’s Turkish products target new market

GE Healthcare launched a wide range of products for the region at Arab Health – among these were the Lullaby Incubator XP and Lullaby Incubator TR, the Discovery CT750HD and the Discovery MR750,

GE also signed a strategic partnership agreement with Saudi-based Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Group (SHMG). Under the agreement GE will provide development consultancy, advanced medical equipment and services for the private hospitals and clinics being set up by the Group in the kingdom.

The Lullaby incubators provide for the management of thermally sensitive infants in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and during transport.

Both Lullaby XP and TR, designed and developed at GE’s R&D Center in Turkey, are part of a programme to make highend technology more affordable, reliable and more accessible to larger segments of society. GE Healthcare plans to export the incubator systems across the Middle East as well as to Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.

GE Healthcare also introduced to the Middle East the Discovery CT750HD. The company says it’s the world’s fastest High Definition scanner. This new technology offers up to 83% less dose on cardiac scans and up to 50% less dose across the rest of the body. The new scanner gives doctors greater diagnostic confidence through “HD quality” imaging with 33% greater clarity and allows physicians to see small vessels from head to toe – as thin as a human hair. The CT750 also provides clinicians with minimised image distortion, the ability to accurately analyse masses and lesions regardless of their location, and the capability to isolate problems for precise treatment planning.

Also on the GE stand was the powerful Discovery MR750, their new 3T MR scanner. GE Healthcare says the MR750 allows for up to five times the imaging performance over previous generations, and 60% greater coverage and resolution. These improvements offer the freedom for advanced application development, including: a routine liver exam in 15 minutes versus the typical 40 minute exam and a full breast exam in only two sequences as opposed to four or five sequences previously.

The system also allows for easier scans and thus improved workflow. The detachable table improves the patient experience with less time spent in the scanner and reduces patient anxiety by allowing for preparation outside of the MR room, so patients can ask questions and become comfortable prior to their scan.

Siemens-KFSH deal

Siemens announced a deal worth close to US$15 million to redesign and provide a complete equipment overhaul of the radiology department King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Siemens says the project will help optimise workflow and dramatically improve the efficiency and quality of patient care. Patient throughput is expected to be increased by 30%. The project will be implemented in a stepby- step transition process to avoid interrupting the day-today running of the radiology department.

On the floor at Arab Health Siemens Healthcare set up a 3D model of a hospital to showcase their integrated product portfolio. Some of the highlights of which included the the Somatom Definition Flash (reviewed Middle East Health Jan-Feb 2009), a new dualsource CT that sets a new standard for speed and dose reduction by delivering the fastest scanning speed (43 cm/s) and extremely reduced radiation dose (spiral heart scan with less than 1 millisievert). Also on show was the new Acuson S2000 Automated Breast Volume Ultrasound (reviewed page 30) – an important breakthrough for follow-up or secondary breast exam procedures. Siemens also showcased their Magnetom Verio MR scanner, a 3T scanner with 70cm Open Bore and Siemens’ proprietary Tim (Total Imaging Matrix).

Swiss pavilion

The Swiss pavilion housed 27 companies. Osec, the official agency for the promotion of Switzerland's foreign trade, said that the medtech industry with around 700 companies is one of the fastest growing sectors in Switzerland and added that Swiss medical products are gaining in significance in the Gulf States.

On show, devices with typical Swiss precision, included those for surgical applications, monitoring premature and new-born infants, infusion technologies and high-frequency X-ray generators. Also on show was a stand-up wheel chair, and products for medical image processing and telemedicine, logistics solutions for hospitals such as a pneumatic delivery system and special drug handling systems, as well as integral drug distribution solutions and systems for the storage of treatment materials and medicines.

Carestream’s DRX-1 a big hit

Todd Minnigh, director of Marketing, Digital Radiography, Carestream told Middle East Health that they have been getting a lot of interest in their DRX-1 system. “It has been extremely popular.”

The DRX-1 system provides a cost-efffective, quick way to use conventional x-ray equipment for digital radiography imaging. A wireless cassettesized DR detector slides into the table or bucky, like a conventional cassette. Images are transmitted wirelessly to the console for immediate viewing or manipulations. From there than can be stored in a PACS and shared across a network.

“The interest in this product in the region has been great, but the premise is the same all over,” Minnigh explained. “You may have a very busy x-ray room, but it isn’t old enough to be replaced. Say it is 8, 9 or 10 years old, it is not old enough to replaced with a digital x-ray room. So while administrators can’t justify replacing it, if it is very busy they would like to do something that can increase productivity and faster turn around, particularly as the population continues to expand. The DRX-1 does this by providing DR speed in your existing analog x-ray room.”

He said Carestream was waiting for the required testing to be completed in Frankfurt and expected the first take up of the product to be in Saudi Arabia later this year.

Minnigh said they were optimistic going forward as they had a number of new products which they are planning to bring to market, one of which is the SuperPACS – a “system which is able to integrate separate and disparate PACS into one logical system so it can all work off one workstation.

“Currently it is a work in progress which we are showing off at Arab Health. We expect it to be commercially available later this year.”

A united Qatar

Qatar presented a united front at Arab Health with eight key organisations involved in healthcare in the State of Qatar all sharing the same stand. They pointed at they were united in a national vision with ‘health and wellbeing’ at its core and that this was one key pillar of the State’s knowledgebased economy. The other pillar is education.

With a US7.9 billion endowment from the Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Qatar Foundation is developing the Sidra Medical and Research Center (due to open in late 2011), which will form an academic medical centre with teaching hospital and the teaching college of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, all on one site.

The eight organisations taking part at Arab Health included:

● Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) – which delivers healthcare in Qatar through five hospitals and clinics throughout the country
● Aspetar – Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital – the first of its kind in the region
● Qatar University – home to the country’s first and the region's newest College of Pharmacy
● University of Calgary Qatar – for nursing
● College of the North Atlantic Qatar – which offers a range of specialist training in a variety of health professions
● Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar – the first US University to offer medical degrees overseas
● Qatar Science and Technology Park – a new home for biotech companies from around the world
● Qatar Diabetes Association Middle East Health published a comprehensive review of Qatar’s healthcare developments in the July-August 2008 issue.

HMC announced that they had recently carried out a number of urological surgeries using the advanced Da Vinci robot to assist these laparoscopic surgical procedures, which marks a major step forward for this type of surgery in the region. There is only one other Da Vinci robot in the region, in Saudi Arabia.

Dr Abdulla Al Ansari, Acting Chairman of Surgery and Head of the Urology Department, pointed out that robot-assisted surgical techniques gave the surgeon more elasticity throughout the operation with the use of a three dimensional camera. It also resulted in more effective cancer control as surgery to remove prostate tumours can be carried out with more precision. He said that using the robot resulted in significantly less pain, less blood loss, less scarring, shorter recovery time and a faster return to normal daily activities for the patient.

British OR equipment manufacturer expands distributor network in ME

British operating theatre equipment manufacturer Anetic Aid is set to expand its distributor network in the Middle East following Arab Health 2009.

The company, which drew considerable interest at its stand in the British pavilion during the Arab Health expo in Dubai in January, has had a growing presence in the region in recent years. Mike Pritchett, International Sales Manager, Anetic Aid, explained: “Healthcare moves at a very fast pace.

There are new developments taking place constantly in clinical practise and this drives innovation in technology to support them.

“An example of this is the increasing profile of day surgery in the Middle East, something which is now widely practiced in the UK. This drove the development of our QA4 Day Surgery System, which combines the functions of a patient transport trolley and an operating table.

Available in both powered and manual versions, this equipment has been clearly of great interest to our distributors. “It also complements our tried and tested QA3 patient trolley, which is now in use in more than 25 countries around the world.”

One of the most recent countries to join that list is Qatar, with Qatar Datamation Systems (QDS) set to become an Anetic Aid distributor. While it is involved in many healthcare areas, the QDS’s Medical Division has a particular focus on orthopaedics and trauma.

Thaher Bashtawi, Sales Manager, QDS said: “A lot of our business takes us into operating theatres, where we talk to nurses and doctors about their needs on a daily basis.

Microsoft finds interest in their HealthVault

At Arab Health Microsoft showed a number health ITrelated products, including their Amalga hospital information system, their HealthVault and the Microsoft Surface – a futuristic, touch screen tabletop communication enhancement tool that looks like it belongs in Star Trek.

Neil Jordan, managing director, WW Health, Microsoft told Middle East Health about the HealthVault. “It’s a new platform we’ve built that will allow consumers to take better control of their health information,” he explained.

The platform offers three core services: information storage; a health-specific web search; and the ability to connect all your various health devices, such as glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, etc. and store the information from these devices on the HealthVault so that it can be shared with a physician. It enhances communication and the relationship between the patient and physician. With a very secure login the patient can access to their HealthVault to upload, download, store and share their health information. It is an Open Source development which will enable the development of third part applications to fit on top of the platform. “We hope in this way to develop a HealthVault community,” said Jordan. “It was initially targeted at the US market, where it has been very successful. We are now finding great interest in the product in the Middle East,” Jordan said. The potential application of HealthVault is wide, ranging from hospitals to healthcare associations and from patients to pharmacies.

Downs Surgical celebrates 130 years

Downs Surgical – the UK’s premier surgical instrument manufacturer – was joined by customers, surgeons and a strong network of international distributors from across the globe – at this year’s Arab Health to celebrate 130 years of successful business. One recent business success in particular, was the awarding to the company of a share of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health tender.

Founded in 1879 by an instrument maker Milikin, Downs Surgical quickly established itself as a market leader and now operates in more than 70 countries worldwide. Their comprehensive product range includes more than 5,000 surgical instruments for, among others, Ear Nose and Throat, cardiovascular, obstetrics and gynaecological surgery. Steve Spurgin, International Business Manager at Downs Surgical, thanked all those who attended the celebration for their contributions to the company’s success.

He explained why the company was successful: “We listen to people’s requirements, understand their needs and endeavour to develop new and unique solutions that satisfy them at every level. Our focus is not what is possible technologically, but what makes sense medically. After all, our key objective is to develop instruments that have positive outcomes on the course of a surgical procedure.” 

ate of upload: 31st March 2009

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