The medical landscape has changed. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, routine visits to the doctor were uncomplicated and recommended to ensure optimal health. This stable system of check-ups has given the population of Southeast Asia a more promising future when it comes to the overall health of the people in the region. The report Health and Healthcare Systems in Southeast Asia published by the United Nations University found that longevity rates in Southeast Asia are likely to surpass those in East Asia’s population by 2050.
Medtech or digital health has gained prominence in Southeast Asia. We look at some of the top medtech startups in the region.
In the ASEAN region, increased affluence in some countries has seen them level up towards the medical care standards provided in Western countries. In contrast, areas without adequate funding have remained at subpar levels.
This need for better healthcare systems has been amplified greatly due to the viral outbreak plaguing the world, and healthtech startups, particularly those involved in telemedicine in Southeast Asia, now have a chance to shine. Coronavirus and the rise of healthtech has started a fire under the burgeoning healthcare startup scene, with some making more of a splash than others.
Routine check-ups are on the backburner due to the prevalence of COVID-19 and the need to keep health care facilities case-free and able to treat those who happen to catch the virus. In light of this, doctors have made themselves more available to their regular patients via telemedicine or virtual appointments. Telehealth, or doctor visits by way of telephone, is not new–the first documented instance of telemedicine was in 1879 when the Lancet published an article about using the technology to help ward off crowded offices.
With the emergence of new technology and the limited means to see non-emergency patients in a post-COVID world, its role may change significantly, and the following healthtech startups are pushing towards the future with full steam.
The Doctor Anywhere app is designed with the patient in mind. They have created a platform that promises a “seamless integration” of both online and offline health care systems. The service relies on paid subscriptions from clients, and it then provides access to a wide array of health care options including virtual doctor’s appointments, mental health and wellness programs with access to certified professionals, and chronic disease management programs. These services all have instant availability to subscribers and give the patient the freedom to choose how and when they receive the healthcare they need virtually.
Recent Series B funding in the sum of $38.4 million USD will help the Singapore-based startup with its expansion plans into Malaysia and the Philippines. A recent partnership with SEA insurance giants, Great Eastern, has seen the company launch a new, comprehensive service to those working in the gig economy, the first policy of its kind in the region.
Doctor On Call
Offering a wide range of services from online doctor consultations to an ePharmacy, DoctorOnCall is one of Malaysia’s leading healthcare apps. The system not only allows you to ask questions from medical professionals, have an online medical consultation and order prescribed and over-the-counter medications, but also can be used to book appointments with hospitals, clinics and specialists throughout the country.
As Malaysia rolls out 5g coverage, DoctorOnCall has become a test subject for leading telco company U Mobile as they demonstrate the enhanced potential for remote consultations with the new, faster internet speeds. Having also partnered with the Malaysian Health Ministry to provide free COVID-19 information and consultations, DoctorOnCall has established itself as a trustworthy telemedicine provider in Southeast Asia.
Created with migrants in mind, ClicknCare wants to give accessible medical care to anyone around the world. The founder, Abu Hasnat Sultanur Reza, based it off an initiative of Simple Motion Sdn Bhd, a company founded on the fundamental principle of simplifying things across a wide range of different industries.
According to a report by marketing firm Solidiance, spending on health care will almost double in the next five years from USD$420 billion to USD$740 billion. This large jump in spending will require unique solutions to progress the healthcare industry in Southeast Asia further. Where healthtech startups are concerned, this increase in funding will boost the development of tech solutions to provide increased availability for people relying on both private and public health care options.
The rise of the middle class in Southeast Asia has led to an increased population of more health-conscious people, and these healthcare startups are working to address their needs in a big way. Coronavirus and the rise of healthtech may have given an additional push towards the use of telemedicine in Southeast Asia, but it is the future of healthcare that will continue to drive the sector.