KSA, UAE, and Vietnam ahead in AI regulation in healthcare


2023 was a pivotal year for digital transformation of health with more sub-national, country, regional, and global initiatives than ever, according to the State of Digital Health Report 2023, a comprehensive analysis
of global digital health trends based on data from 67 countries across all
WHO regions participating in the Global Digital Health Monitor (GDHM).

This year, the report continues, generative AI for healthcare has dominated the field this year in its known and unknown potential to increase equity in health and/or to exacerbate gender and racial biases already present in the technologysector and underlying data sources.

While AI is experiencing significant technological advances, AI in healthcare regulations remain absent in 90% of countries. Among the 10% with regulations are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Vietnam.

Furthermore, 69% of countries do not have protocols, policies, frameworks, or other accepted processes for governing AI’s use in healthcare, with another 21% of countries having proposals under review. Most participating countries (55%) reported having low readiness for emerging technologies, their adoption, and governance.

Governments embrace digital health

Despite this, legislation has been enacted by 72% of countries to safeguard individuals’ health data, regulate data-sharing practices, and establish consent management frameworks.

In addition, 75% of countries have either started development or
have approved national digital health strategies, encompassing areas such as health information exchange, telemedicine, electronic health records, and digital health infrastructure development.

The GDHM benchmarks countries along a five-phase maturity model against 23 standardised digital health indicators including emerging technology and AI, equity, gender, Universal Health Coverage, person-centered health, and population health.

The GDHM shows that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Portugal are at the highest phase in overall digital health maturity (5). There are 15 countries in Phase 4, that include the following in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The State of Digital Health 2023 report can be downloaded here.

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