The Southeast Asia healthtech scene was already flourishing prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With health coming to centre stage over the past two years, it seemed obvious that the industry would accelerate significantly; however, investments dropped in Q1 of 2020 and painted a new trajectory for the industry. Nevertheless, the recovery from this fall has already begun. The top healthtech startups in Southeast Asia show why the region is leading the pack in telemedicine and health technologies over the last few months.

A report published by the United National University before the global health crisis hit shows that Southeast Asia’s longevity rates were set to surpass the rates found in East Asia. This push towards better healthcare started pre-pandemic but solidified as COVID-19 ravaged the globe, and healthtech startups began taking notice of the opportunities to provide the general population with better health solutions. The pandemic brought rapid changes in the region’s healthcare provision, seeing routine visits to the doctor’s office almost disappear, so startups stepped up to fill the gap.

The rise of healthtech in SEA

The desperate need for better access to healthcare in Southeast Asia is not new, but it has gained momentum lately due to startups throwing their hat into the ring to provide the best in telemedicine. 

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According to an article published by McKinsey & Company, increased access to digital healthcare directly impacts over a billion people. The healthtech scene in the region has the potential to grow to roughly $100 billion USD in value in just four short years. In contrast to the $37 billion USD in 2020, that valuation is proof that the growth of the consumer-centric digital health ecosystem introduced by healthtech startups is unprecedented, albeit necessary for the health of the region’s population.

The three sectors expected to see the most growth are wellness and disease prevention, screening and diagnosis and care delivery. Wellness and disease prevention are likely to rise to $6.6 billion USD by 2025, nearly triple their valuation in 2020. Screening and diagnosis are making the second-biggest leap, with projections putting its valuation in 2025 at $15.3 billion USD, up from just $5.1 billion in 2020. For care delivery, valuations look set to hit $78.5 billion USD by 2025, a steep increase from the $30 billion USD it saw in 2020.

Factors driving the changes

The forces driving the significant growth in the area vary. One immensely pivotal change is the rapidly ageing population. By 2025, 465 million people will likely be above the age of 65. This demographic may make up only 10% of the people in the region; however, the growth rate since 2021 is at 14%. 

Supply constraints may hamper the industry’s growth because of the low number of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals available. The World Health Organization painted a bleak picture concerning the availability of nurses, a nine million nurse shortfall to be exact, showing that the rise in investments and infrastructure alone will not meet the needs of the region’s population.

Other factors that will come into play include rising consumer expectations and demands for better health care and wellness accessibility, the growing financial burden that healthcare puts on the government and the technological innovation coming out of the area.

Top healthtech startups to watch

With this rise in the need for access to health care, startups in the region have begun utilising new and innovative ways to help increase the general health and wellness of the population. 

Telemedicine providers such as Doctor Anywhere and Doctor On Call have given both service providers and patients the opportunity to connect virtually. With a reduction of in-person appointments available, technology grants people access to their healthcare provider at the touch of a button and ensures more people can receive the care they need.

Online pharmacy services such as Pharmacity help patients get their medications delivered straight to their doors. In the time of COVID-19, this convenient and safe addition to healthcare accessibility has proven beneficial for all involved. Mental health, which has declined significantly since the pandemic began, is also being addressed by companies such as Malaysian-based startup Naluri, which provides healthcare solutions and support through digital means.

The increased need for access to medical care is driving the growth of the healthtech industry in Southeast Asia. Companies in the sector are working to improve healthcare accessibility through digital innovation and technology. 

The top healthtech startups in Southeast Asia are moving with the tides, pivoting and adapting to give consumers what they want while addressing the region’s healthcare industry problems. With the growing trends within the industry , the region’s population can expect better access to improved healthcare technologies in the next five years.