HealthTech Does Not Discriminate: Here’s how it works in Developing and High-Income Markets
Entrepreneurs consistently thrive on the principle that challenges entail opportunities. From identifying market and industry loopholes, entrepreneurs can cultivate solutions that improve efficiency and efficacy in delivering goods and services to a greater market segment.
The pervasive income-inequality in Asia’s emerging markets often result in poor access to healthcare, where only upper-middle to upper class population segments obtain quality services. Doctor to patient ratios are drastically low in highly populated emerging economies such as India, where one doctor exists per 1,681 individuals. Rural and remote areas suffer the most, where adjacent third tier cities lack the infrastructure to provide basic healthcare services.
A main causal factor for deficits in healthcare is the shortage of public and private investments into hospitals, equipment, and IT technologies that fuel modern infrastructures. Consequently, this results in a shortage of skilled healthcare workers, and a lack of general facilities in secluded areas and third tier cities. The total healthcare expenditure for Southeast Asia accounts for a 4.0% of the GDP, which bears a stark contrast to the cumulative global healthcare expenditure of 7.2 trillion, comprising of 11% of the world’s GDP.
While most population segments in Asia’s emerging economies may not have access to healthcare, they do have access to mobile devices. With the over 1 billion smartphone users in Asia, many of Asia’s HealthTech entrepreneurs have connected the dots and developed smartphone solutions to provide access to general physician services. Coined as mHealth, mobile apps are now connecting patients with doctors over live, video consultations. Those in remote locations can consult general physicians, while those in tier one cities can save time and transportation costs. These apps have erupted in countries such as India, Indonesia, and Philippines, where doctor-patient ratios are low, and highly congested cities do not enable quick visits to general or specified practices.
HealthTech entrepreneurs know the potential of a smart-phone, and are doing more than simply connecting individuals with doctors. HealthTech startup mClinica recently launched a telemedicine platform, Connect Pharmacy, which integrates pharmacies, physicians, and patients on to an app, in addition to e-prescription, e-booking, and e-billing features. Connect Pharmacy’s network of over 1,400 pharmacies caters to over 20 million patients in the Philippines. mClinica also incentivizes user sign-ups by providing discounts for pharmacy services by using the app.
While smartphone solutions undoubtedly begin to fill in the gap of poor healthcare access in emerging markets, they also speed up access to care and improve quality of care provision in developed economies.
MyDoc, a Singapore-based start-up has an mHealth app dedicated to workplace health, providing mobile services in regards to chronic disease management, mental wellbeing, healthy eating, active living, and personal development. MyDoc also collects user data from wearable devices, which sync to the app through the blue tooth.
Many of the emerging HealthTech startups, while providing services to consumers, are collecting user data from user data-entry and day-today transactions. Several startups plan to leverage collected pools of big data for data-analytics services, which can be used to solve complex industry problems.
For example, mClinica not only enables an ePharmacy to consumers, but provides data-analytics on a cloud-based platform to pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and distributors to showcase user and market trends.
Just through mobile and data-science platforms, many HealthTech startups have the capacity to solve some of healthcare’s most complex problems in both emerging and prosperous nations.
Authored by: Sunni Lal
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