They say necessity is the mother of invention and in a time of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, this is once more proving to be true. Many tech startups in Southeast Asia are coming into their own during 2020 partially amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Those that focus on being helpful during the crisis, offering solutions or aiding communities, are shining brightly and gaining much-deserved attention.
The growth of medtech
Medtech is evolving at a rapid pace thanks to much-needed investment in the sector. With VC and governmental support, many tech startups in Southeast Asia are striving to find solutions to issues such as receiving medical assistance while social distancing.
Some are making things easier for doctors and patients to interact through platforms, while others are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make diagnosis and treatment safer for all. In a time where many industries are facing a devastating crash and inevitable recession, the medtech sector is preparing for a boom.
We take a look at some of the startups in Southeast Asia having a life-changing impact on life in lockdown.
This contact tracing app is the brainchild of the Singaporean government in collaboration with SG United, GovTech and the Department of Health. With many being Singaporeans tech-savvy, the government’s decision to launch a community-driven app to help to keep track of whom you have come into contact with is a no-brainer.
As they battle to beat the virus, encouraging the people of Singapore to download and use TraceTogether is making it easier to trace people who may have come in contact with anyone infected. And, it’s working. Over 1.4 million people have already downloaded the app (available on both Android and IOS), and are helping the authorities to combat the spread.
The technology uses Bluetooth and encryption to monitor close contact between people, so when someone receives a COVID-19 diagnosis, an alert goes out to all those who have been closeby to them in the past two weeks.
Using AI technology, this Singapore-based tech startup focuses on helping doctors assess a patient’s wounds. KroniKare’s handheld scanner takes around 30 seconds to detect, scan and measure injuries.
In a time where doctors are looking for ways to avoid coming too close to a patient and risking infection from COVID-19, this device allows them to examine wounds faster and give a more accurate diagnosis than before.
The speedier results also cut down on the patient’s time in the medical centre and enable treatment to commence in a more timely manner.
Doctor A to Z
As medtech platforms go, this app from Thailand is very comprehensive. Doctor A to Z not only offers access to family doctors and general practitioners, but its network of around 600 medical professionals also includes those who specialise in specific areas such as cancer, heart disease and IVF treatments.
With many people reluctant to sit in doctor’s surgeries or emergency rooms right now, this app allows almost instant access to online consultations or to make appointments in hospitals, thus avoiding long waiting times.
Another Thai medical platform, Doctor Raksa, was founded in 2016 to help people in remote areas access medical care and to ease the cost burdens for the community. Offering online consultations in conjunction with its pharmacy delivery service helps reduce the costs of doctor visits as there are few-to-no overheads with appointments held in the comfort of the patient’s home.
Impressively, they can deliver the required medication within two hours of the consultation, helping to speed recovery and eliminate the need to go outside to a pharmacy.
As it treats everything from physical illness to mental health issues, this platform is truly showing its benefits during the pandemic.
Originating in Papua, Indonesia, with the help of the Indonesian Government, this tech startup has branched out to Singapore and intends to reach other countries in the region as it continues to grow.
Nalangenticcs provides a DNA testing service to examine the impact particular medications have on individuals.
It aims to help doctors prescribe more effective drugs, have fewer side effects and in some cases, prevent deaths from negative interactions between the patient and the medication. As trials to find suitable treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 are ongoing, knowing which drugs will work for a patient has never been more vital.
As the pandemic looks likely to rumble on into the foreseeable future, changes to our lives are inevitable. Thankfully, due to the foresight and ingenuity of some entrepreneurs, it need not be such a scary time.
With so many startups in Southeast Asia lending their technology, expertise, data, and entrepreneurial spirit to combat COVID-19, the value these new businesses add to our lives and communities is a shining light in these dark times.