HealthTech Will Fill the MedTech Gap in Asia
HealthTech is a flourishing sector in healthcare driven by a broad spectrum of information technologies and solutions that have the capability to transform healthcare’s value chain from lab to patient. These technologies are shifting the industry paradigm from a curative and service-based model to a holistic one, which is for example helping individuals prevent the onset of chronic disease. Revolutionary technologies, such as biosensors and genomic sequencing are playing a fundamental role in detecting early signs and possibilities of disease, and can lead to better lifestyle choices.
HealthTech leverages the computational power of portable devices such as smartphones and cloud-based infrastructures to collect, mine, and analyze large chunks of health related data that are revealing patterns linked to a myriad of healthcare outcomes. Rapid advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) is amplifying the power of data-science to determine which behaviors and decisions lead to the most optimum healthcare outcomes.
Advanced cloud-based infrastructures have the capacity to process large chunks of data, enabling more precise-diagnoses, clinical decision-making and a more efficient allocation of resources. Wearable technologies and genomic sequencing are generating a great deal of patient information that can provide statistics for epidemiological analyses. Google’s HealthTech-focused subsidiary, Verily, is in the forefront of this technological revolution with innovative projects such as smart contact lenses that can monitor a wearer’s glucose levels, and computing health data to enable interventions and platforms for holistic care management.
Through the rapid collection of data, traditional healthcare barriers are radically lowered through the visibility of data, which is helping overcome the current interoperability limitations between key healthcare stakeholders. Smartphones and tablets are playing a significant role in addressing the information flow between stakeholders such as patients, doctors, and insurers while providing much needed contextual information for better decision making.
“In healthcare, decision-making isn’t a science problem, it’s an information problem.” – Thomas Goetz, author of The Remedy & The Decision Tree
Patients and users can now access doctors through live, video consultations on their smartphones. The main demand driver for telemedicine in Asia is the lack of access to basic healthcare services in underserved and remote regions, in which hospitals and clinics are out of reach. In India, doctor-to-patient ratios is poor: one doctor exists per 1,681 individuals, especially in rural and remote areas. Fortunately, greater connectivity is now enabling individuals to overcome geographical barriers to access quality healthcare.For example, Internet hospitals, an emerging phenomenon in China, are government-subsidized facilities which allow users to have video consultations with doctors without needing to go to hospitals.
The medical technology or device sector, aka MedTech, entails a group of devices that are specific to an injury, illness, or common healthcare service. These include devices for the purposes of diagnosis e.g. MRI scanners and for disease treatment e.g. cardiac pacemakers. Novel technologies such as 3D or additive printing are also presenting the industry with new ways to support life or help cure diseases.
In the future, HealthTech and MedTech will increasingly compliment each other to monitor and improve the health of individuals. To be sustainably successful, HealthTech will also need to develop commercially viable business models.
We at Galen Growth Asia believe that HealthTech is providing key stakeholders with the unprecedented opportunity to address the gaps in Asia’s healthcare ecosystem that MedTech alone cannot solve.