17 January 2020

Can Digital Health Fundamentally Change Healthcare in APAC?

Digital health is undoubtedly one of the hottest topics in healthcare industry, including in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC). In 2018, US$6.8 billion was invested in the digital health business in APAC, making it second only to the US .

For investor’s, APAC offers a unique combination of healthcare demand and digital engagement, creating considerable opportunities for the rapid growth of digital healthcare, especially in Southeast Asia. WeAreSocial’s Digital 2019 report suggested that Southeast Asia was the fastest-growing region worldwide in unique internet, mobile and social media users in 2018. Additionally, the increasing demand for better health systems across Southeast Asia and Chinese region is another key factor that is driving the growth of the industry.  Some analysts have gone as far as suggesting that digital health technology could play a key role in establishing universal healthcare coverage in the region.

Chinese online clinic service, Good Doctors (平安好醫生), which has recently expanded its service to Thailand, is an example of a digital solution to address the lack of healthcare infrastructure in China. The system seeks to fill the gap in healthcare for patients who live in remote areas, where clinics are not easily accessible. Through a team of physicians and an AI-enabled platform, Good Doctors have delivered more than 200 million hours of online doctor consultations over the past 3.5 years.

However, significant obstacles remain to the development of the digital health industry in APAC, including a lack of transparency, weak regulation and governance in healthcare operations, lower developed and fragmented country-wide health informatics. Initiatives such as regulatory reform, health data collection upgrades, and regulatory standardization/ harmonization need to be implemented throughout the region. 

Future digital health trends, including the adoption of block-chain and a digital health-insurer business model, may improve the data security of patient information and increase profitability of digital health services. Increased collaboration between digital health services, insurers, and other shareholders has the potential to start to breakdown the healthcare cost burden.

With innovations in healthcare management needs, investment continually flowing in, and an expected regulatory harmonization to happen within the next 3-5 years1, we foresee solid opportunities for the digital health industry in APAC. Business intelligence and strategy planning will play critical roles to identify the opportunities and tackle challenges. Vox.Bio’s presence in APAC means we understand the dynamics and forces that are shaping what the future of healthcare will look like in the region. Please reach out to find out more about how we can support your business.