In recent times, digital technologies have played a significant role in revolutionising pharmacies and healthcare in Vietnam. Increased use of smartphones and the internet means innovative tech has made many services, including healthcare, more accessible and convenient for people.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided an urgent need for remote access to services such as healthcare leading to a growth of online pharmacies and medical consultations. The need to provide excellent healthcare while maintaining safety during the global health crisis increased the use of healthtech in Vietnam.
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The ePharmacy market is now showing potential growth of CAGR 29.5% from 2021-2026 in the country, and predictions show that online consultations will double in the same period. Other uses of healthtech, such as digital records, AI for medical and pharmaceutical research, and wellness applications, are also on the rise in the country.
Digital technologies have made it easier for pharmacies to manage their inventory and supply chain; with digital tools, pharmacies can track their stock levels, order medicines online, and receive deliveries more efficiently. This automation has helped to reduce waste and improve the availability of drugs in Vietnam.
Actual online sales of drugs and medical supplies through ePharmacies have increased from USD 9.25 million in 2017 to over USD 114 million in 2022, with predictions showing revenue reaching over USD 250 million by 2027. Companies such as The MedCare and Medigo offer sales and deliveries of pharmaceutical products in the country and are continuing to grow. MedCare Partners received USD 1.9 million in venture round funding in 2021, while Medigo raised USD 2 million in Series A funding in March 2023.
The use of telemedicine is significantly impacting healthcare services in Vietnam. This technology allows doctors to remotely consult with patients, reducing the need for physical visits to clinics and hospitals. Services such as those offered by eDoctor, Jio Health and Med247 have been particularly useful in rural areas where patient access to healthcare services may be limited. Patients can now receive medical advice and prescriptions from doctors through video calls, text messages, or mobile apps.
The telemedicine market in the country was estimated to be worth USD 304 million in 2022, and investments in telemedicine providers will boost the sector further. In 2022, Jio Health received Series B funding of USD 20 million, and Med247 increased its capital with USD 4.5 million in Series A funding, with Altara Ventures leading a 6-investor group.
Another way digital technologies, such as NextGen EHR implementation, have revolutionized pharmacies and healthcare services in Vietnam is through electronic health records (EHRs). EHRs allow doctors and pharmacists to access patient information quickly and easily, reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient outcomes. EHRs also enable doctors to monitor patients remotely, providing better care and reducing the need for hospital visits.
One pioneering company in the field, Infomed, was the first startup in the world to receive a patent for blockchain-based patient information electronic records. It works with over 30 hospitals nationwide to provide secure IT solutions for medical records.
AI and healthcare
Artificial intelligence (AI) in medical research and analysis is becoming more commonplace. Globally, the 2021 market was only worth USD 11 billion, but forecasts show it will likely cross the USD 188 billion valuations by 2030.
In Vietnam, AI is used to analyse CT, MRI and X-ray scans to speed up diagnosis and determine issues that doctors may miss. In pathology, startup VinBrain uses AI to cross-reference data and detect possible disease indicators for problems in a patient’s heart, lungs and bones. Meanwhile, a collaboration between telecommunications company KT Corp and Hanoi Medical University (HMU) is using AI for research purposes.
Medical institutions and companies increasingly use AI Chatbots to gather and provide information, while some hospitals are using AI robots for cleaning, disinfection and during surgical procedures.
Health and wellness applications
Digital technologies have made it easier for patients to access information about their health and medications and to manage many conditions. Mobile apps and websites provide patients with medication information, including how to use it, dosage instructions and any potential side effects. Patients can also use these tools to track their health and monitor progress. Wearable devices such as smartwatches, diabetes, and heart rate monitors all aid health and wellness.
Mental health applications are also becoming more popular as people realise the importance of wellness in every aspect of their lives. Overall usage of wellbeing applications and digital fitness wearables has increased significantly in recent years, with projections showing the market to be worth over USD 248 million by the end of 2023 as the use of healthtech in Vietnam continues to grow.
Digital technologies are revolutionising healthcare in Vietnam, making it more accessible, convenient, and efficient. With the continued development of innovative technologies, the future of Vietnam’s health sector looks digital.