Nala: The first-ever AI medical platform in Arabic

Nala: The first-ever AI medical platform in Arabic
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Updated 16 May 2022

Nala: The first-ever AI medical platform in Arabic

Nala: The first-ever AI medical platform in Arabic
  • Nala founder Othman Abahussein spells out how developers with a vision can create health impact through apps

RIYADH: Headquartered in Riyadh, Nala is Saudi Arabia’s leading digital health service for chronic conditions management and the first-ever AI medical platform in Arabic. The app offers tailored digital care programs, virtual access to dedicated doctors, bluetooth health devices, and prescriptions delivery.

In line with one of the Kingdom’s initiatives for Vision 2030, related to digital healthcare transformation, the platform provides its users with instant access to personalized healthcare through a mobile app. “Over 200,000 patients with chronic conditions have used Nala, and we are on track to serve 1 million,” said Othman Abahussein, founder and CEO of Nala. He added: “Nala is now the most preferred method to treat diabetes for insurance companies and government payers. Our whole team is in Riyadh, and all of our human capital investments go into local talents. We made a bet on local talent, and we are very proud of that.” 

Featured multiple times by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, and the winner of numerous awards, Nala has doctors licensed by the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties and is consistently top ranking in app stores. The company also recently raised more funds that it intends to use to continue to grow its user base and further strengthen its position as the region’s top digital health service.” 
Asked about what inspired him to create the Nala app, Abahussein said: “I had just sold my first company, and I wanted to work on something with an impact. I then went through a personal event that made me think, maybe chronic conditions are a perfect application for mobile digital health. I knew I had the required knowledge and experience to venture into app development; in addition I always believed Apple technologies and specifically the iPhone was a marvel of human engineering with many serious capabilities — not gimmicks — and would work well with my vision. This is how I decided to develop in an iOS environment at first.”

“Besides providing app creators with the ultimate distribution channel (App Store), Apple has a very active and supportive developer community that will help you with insights on how to improve your app and make your solutions even more effective,” he said.

“Our main mission is to provide exceptional health care experience while maintaining a significant low cost for patients and preserving their medical privacy. Developing on the iOS platform allowed us to design Nala’s databases in a way medical data is stored without personal identifiers; this way no one can access the patient info without the patient’s consent.”

Abahussein added: “Our first versions were exclusively in Arabic, so it’s an Arabic-first app. We later added an English translation and we plan on adding other languages soon (Urdu and Hindi). There were no challenges in creating an all-Arabic app other than picking the right fonts.” 

On keeping his app up-to-date despite new trends and constantly changing user behaviors, he said: “We stay close to technological developments and its impact on user behaviors; conferences like WWDC are very important for us to discover new capabilities and update our user experience accordingly. We also make sure to keep a short development cycle to ensure that our app is always up-to-the-minute.” 

Asked about his top tips for developers who want to create a successful app, Abahussein said: “Be obsessed with the problem, not the solution. Everyone can code! Don’t be intimidated by the platform, techniques or environment as you’ll always find the required resources to support you on your journey, especially if the app you want to create is worth it and solves a problem within its field or community.”