Falling sick used to be the same anywhere around the world – get yourself out of bed, find your way to a clinic or hospital and then have a doctor prescribe the treatment. However, the pandemic changed all of that as even healthcare institutions were out of bounds for some.

This is where technology had a viable solution. This wasn’t borne out of the pandemic, but the lockdowns and heightened sense of urgency helped speed up the adoption of digital health solutions. One such company at the forefront of virtual healthcare was Speedoc. They are a healthtech platform that brings advanced medical care to homes.

The company recently announced it had closed its pre-series B funding round of US$28 million from investors such as Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia & India, Bertelsmann Investments, Shinhan Venture investment and Mars Growth.

We spoke to Dr Shravan Verma, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Speedoc, to find out more about the future of healthtech in the region. A former practicing medical doctor in Singapore, before embarking on his entrepreneurial pursuits as the Co-Founder and CEO of Speedoc. Having a keen eye for health-tech innovation, Dr. Verma is on a mission to use the latest technologies to improve healthcare access for communities and develop newer models of care that could help with driving down overall healthcare costs.

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The Singapore-based online and offline health provider was founded in 2017 and they make hospital-level care accessible to every person via technology. Speedoc leverages its expertise in technology, innovation and decentralized medical care to provide a wide range of mobile medical services spanning telehealth consultations, on-site doctor and nurse visits, virtual hospital wards, and ambulance hailing services.

Speedoc’s platform is now available in nine cities across Singapore and Malaysia and serves patients and caregivers across both countries. Speedoc was also a key partner of the Singapore Government during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to support Home Recovery Programmes (HRP) and Home Vaccination Teams, particularly for the elderly segment.

Speedoc Co-Founder Serene Cai (L), Co-Founder and CEO Dr Shravan Verma (R)
Co-Founder Serene Cai (L), Co-Founder and CEO Dr Shravan Verma (R)

Congrats on the funding. Could you share how you plan to use the investment?

Our team is very pleased to welcome new and existing investors such as Bertelsmann Investments, Shinhan Venture Investment, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India, and Mars Growth to our latest round of funding. The investment is a huge validation of our business model and confidence in the role we are playing in pushing the boundaries of healthcare beyond what is currently possible.

The funds raised in this round will go towards Speedoc’s efforts to make virtual hospitals a reality throughout Southeast Asia. We will achieve this in two ways: first, by expanding existing partnerships and forging new ones with public and private healthcare providers, insurers, and businesses; and second, by strengthening our medical and digital capabilities as we work to fine-tune and scale-up the virtual hospital model to allow for the successful treatment of more complex conditions in a virtual hospital setting.

Speedoc’s pilot trials and industry research have shown that, when given the same level of medical care and treatment, patients recover in the home-based, virtual hospital care model in the same or less time than they would in conventional healthcare facilities. We are confident that virtual hospitals will lead to higher hospital utilisation rates and more capacity for medical personnel to treat life-threatening conditions. Finally, by bringing healthcare into patients’ homes, we hope to empower patients and caregivers to take a more active role in their own health and healthcare journey, resulting in improved health outcomes, better care, and lower costs.

How does Speedoc work with medical providers like hospitals and clinics?

Speedoc works with hospitals and clinics to provide hospital-level care in the comfort of people’s homes. Team meetings are held first thing in the morning each day, similar to what care teams do in hospitals, to map out the patient’s care plan. Our doctors and nurses conduct routine rounds 2-4 times per day and can be done virtually or in-person, depending on the patient’s condition and needs. Similar to hospital ward rounds, we assess and monitor vital signs, manage prescriptions and medications, and update lab reports during these routine rounds.

When necessary, we have a mobile medical team on standby that can be deployed to provide 24-hour home medical care. We make certain that home-bound patients are regularly monitored using technology and remote monitoring devices, and that there is effective communication and coordination with hospitals, clinics, and lab partners to ensure a seamless continuation of care and that everyone at home is aware of their loved one’s care plan.

Speedoc assists hospitals and clinics in managing their patient loads by providing medical professionals who can provide distributed and decentralised medical care at no additional cost to patients. In effect, Speedoc is implementing the concept of a “virtual hospital,” in which we provide elastic bed capacities to our hospital partners.

Speedoc allows patients and caregivers to recover at home through the use of technology
Speedoc allows patients and caregivers to recover at home through the use of technology

Given the better education and adoption of these solutions after the pandemic, how do you see the market evolving in the next 12 months?

When pandemics sweep through societies, they upend critical structures, such as health systems and medical treatments. We take a broad view that the market will continue to be receptive to and rely more on digital connections for essential services in health care. We can expect the “Internet of Medical Things” with sensors and devices that allow for new kinds of patient health monitoring; machines to diagnose people with disease symptoms; diagnostic screenings that cover a person’s diet, genes and the emergence of a new class of tele-care workers.

Shifting demographics, rising consumer expectations, technological innovations and a shift towards value-based healthcare are preparing Asia for rapid healthcare change. These factors, taken together, enable providers to reimagine healthcare delivery and management. With partnerships and collaborations with healthcare players, Speedoc is well-positioned to play a critical role in consumer-centric digital health ecosystems in response to these trends and riding on the moment to push the boundaries of healthcare beyond its current times.

Where do you see your virtual healthcare ecosystem having the most impact?

While everyone stands to benefit from the advent of virtual healthcare, our experiences have shown that the ‘sandwiched generation’ – those who must care for both young children and their elderly parents while also juggling work demands – has been the most enthused about digital health services thus far. Digital health services save time and resources by eradicating the need for two-way travel to medical facilities.

What is next for Speedoc?

Speedoc is excited to be embarking on our next chapter of growth. The immediate priority is to make virtual hospitals a reality throughout Southeast Asia by expanding partnerships and scaling up H-Ward®.

We will expand our collaboration with existing hospital partners, such as National University Health System (NUHS), Singapore General Hospital (SGH), and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KPTH), to provide virtual ward services as part of the MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation’s (MOHT) Mobile Inpatient Care@Home (MIC@Home) programme. We will also expand our H-Ward® virtual hospital programme, which is an integrated platform that is monitored by a dedicated patient-care team 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and standardises and combines various services required for hospital care at home.

As our business expands, we will continue to forge partnerships and evaluate all relevant opportunities in order to live our purpose of pushing healthcare beyond current times, guided by our 4P values of People First, Passionate, Professional, and Progressive.