Singapore has always focused on improving the healthcare industry by focusing on innovation and growth. Digital health is part of the broader industry. This has led to the development of a favourable business environment and a diverse medical ecosystem within Singapore which attract companies to invest in Singapore or use Singapore as their launch pad.
With robust regulations in place and strong infrastructure, Singapore provides a platform for companies to study the region and adapt to a very fragmented regional market. This also means that hiring talent is easier, as the best minds often congregate or are home-grown to suit the growing demand.
The platform approach
Therefore, Singapore is leading the healthcare innovation push towards digital delivery of services and integration to improve access and quality of healthcare. However, early attempts at creating an economically viable service that did not compromise on quality were limited due to reliance on health services and low adoption amongst both the provider and patient side. There were few takers to help drive adoption and test the market.
Market evolution and greater understanding have shown the quickest and most efficient way to drive adoption and innovation in the industry is through a platform approach. Examples of platform technology include Uber and Grab, as well as Airbnb. These are technology platforms that focus on working with existing supply and demand, which in the case of healthcare are patients and health services, to create an efficient and high-quality service that benefits both sides of the equation.
Therein lies the main challenge that most health tech companies in Asia face.
How do you create value for both provider and patient without increasing price and reducing accessibility? The simple answer is to increase efficiency and automation, thus removing overhead costs and driving acquisition costs down.
However, the issue isn’t as cut and dry as that. Despite what Donald Trump may think, it is a well-known fact that healthcare is a complex and multi-layered industry. The process of successfully rolling out healthcare to millions of patients that offers quality and ease-of-access is a significant challenge. Having to keep costs down and maintain high quality adds even more complexity to the entire process.
The platform process has been shown to be successful so far. Just taking into account the fact the Health Promotion Board is rolling out a country-wide SME programme using a digital health platform highlights the robustness and capability of the technology. Major insurers, such as AXA Insurance, are also getting on board and regional consumer pharmacy giant, Guardian, now leverages the MyDoc platform to provide health services.
Big data in healthcare
One of the main reasons a platform is the most effective method to roll out healthcare is the ability to standardize and accurately collect healthcare data. A platform is capable of tracking the flow of information and activity, thus provides insights into patient activity and flow, as well as empowers the payors.
MyDoc provides an API-driven platform that integrates with different technology services and allows service-providers to provide healthcare through its platform as well. This removes the need for technology partners to build a platform themselves, as well as offering a technology service for traditional healthcare players to scale faster and improve the efficiency of their businesses. It lowers cost of overheads, increases the volume of patients by eliminating wasted time and provides actionable data insights into performance. This isn’t easily replicable with a non-digital service.
AXA Insurance utilizes MyDoc to provide healthcare to their policyholders in Singapore. The platform helps them reduce costs, track user behavior on a macro scale, and develop insurance products that are more cost-efficient for both patients and themselves.
Healthcare data in Asia is a precious yet often absent commodity, due to different medical systems and no standardized data management system locally and regionally. Though current data gathering efforts are ongoing, there are limitations due to the difficult services and non-compatible raw data. MyDoc’s platform is the most efficient way to get non-standardized systems to work together by integrating different services through MyDoc and making that the de-facto standard for data gathering.
The challenge lies ahead for digital health, where the industry must catch up to patients and changing provider sentiment. Patient-driven healthcare is on the rise and surging healthcare costs are forcing corporations, governments, and average patients to look for affordable yet high-quality solutions.
Currently, MyDoc is working with regulators to try out an online prescription service to provide prescription drugs online. Though still in its early stages, we have partnered with both AXA and Guardian to help push through this service, thus opening the possibility of driving down medication costs and making it easier to receive comprehensive healthcare at a more affordable rate.
If providers want to remain relevant and maintain healthy growth, it is essential to catch up with a changing industry. MyDoc isn’t looking to disrupt the industry but works within it to bridge the technological gap that makes access more tedious and confusing that it needs to be. As with many industries, it is up to the incumbents to move with the times to adapt or face the unappealing prospect of having to catch up.
Contributed by Terng Shing Chen
For more articles about digital health or other technology topics, check out Voices.
—– END —–
About Terng Shing
Terng Shing is the marketing head for digital health company MyDoc. Based in Singapore, Terng Shing has been focused on building the MyDoc brand and evangelising the digital health industry in Southeast Asia and beyond.
His experience includes a decade of work in PR and communications agencies, managing top-tier fortune 500 companies to the leading startups in Southeast Asia. Terng Shing has a passion for innovative communications and is convinced that PR is the next great industry to see positive disruption.
The views expressed by the author do not represent the views of Tech Collective. To join our growing list of contributors, drop us a note here.