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Telemedicine startups waiting to disrupt SE Asian markets during COVID times


Telemedicine startups waiting to disrupt SE Asian markets during COVID times

Last week a friend called up asking for a good doctor for consultation regarding some health issues of his father. The friend, who lives in a metro like Mumbai, was scared to visit a clinic or hospital because of the COVID19 spread. Also, many hospitals turned him down saying that they are currently grappling with Covid patients and can’t attend to his father. So, I called up my family doctor, who then provided my friend with a video consultation on WhatsApp and was paid through GPay.

Opportunity

Now this was just one of instance but my guess is there are millions of people, who do not have access to good medical practitioners or GPs. There could be various reasons for this :

A) the patients are in small towns and hence do not have access to good doctors

B) people are often shy to go to some clinics especially if it is related to sexual or mental illness.

C) Many a times, there is an issue with unavailability of transportation in a household and many other reasons including the latest scare of getting infected by Corona virus at hospitals and clinics.

In such a scenario, the need of video-based medical consultation becomes very critical wherein patients can have a face to face virtual interaction with the doctors. This also helps create and build the trust for a patient as he/she is openly discussing about the medical issue from the comfort of the house.

While, the concept is not new and there are enough platforms globally that connect patients with doctors virtually or digitally but they had not taken off. However a pandemic like COVID-19 has literally help this segment explode and more so in the Asia Pacific region.

In this article, I would like to focus on the APAC region and before that let’s understand the definition of telemedicine.

Telemedicine Definition

Telemedicine is defined as a healthcare service to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients remotely using telecommunications technology. Though present for over a decade now, the practice has assumed a greater importance during the current pandemic.

The applications are:

  • Consultations

  • Follow-ups

  • Remote disease management

  • Post hospitalisation care

  • Preventive care etc.

Telemedicine doesn’t involve physical treatment and for any medical procedure one has to be admitted in a hospital. The medical science has not advanced to that level 😃

The existing challenges has led to spurt in the emergence of Telemedicine startups and firms lately and SE Asia has witnessed an increased investment activity in the last 3-4 months thus marking a paradigm shift waiting to happen in the whole online health industry.


Startups in SE Asia :

Singapore 🇸🇬

Doctor Anywhere has raised $27 million from Square Peg, an Australian VC firm, EDBI and others. It is a remote medical consultation platform. The company’s revenue has grown by 3x in last three months, as reported by Bloomberg. The company is expanding its services into other SE Asian countries. Anchorvale, a property developer, is partnering with a startup HiDoc to construct a telehealth kiosk with built-in sensors and devices for residents.

SINGAPORE/INDIA

Phable Care is an AI-driven autonomous care solution that enables digital ailment management, continuous monitoring, and predictive healthcare. Phable has created disease level algorithms to monitor patient health for 9 ailments and plans to build deeper algorithms on Hypertension, Diabetes, and co-morbid conditions. Disease level algorithms are Phable's core IP. Phable has developed its SaaS offerings and Apps to better serve the ecosystem players. Phable has also secured 3-4 Million $ Funding from Japanese, US, India VCs.

Vietnam 🇻🇳

Another such platform Pharmacity, from Vietnam, is also creating buzz among the VC community. It has raised around $32 million in April. Vietnam is also becoming another hotspot for such telemedicine startups as another telehealth operator eDoctor raised an undisclosed amount in April.

Philippines 🇵🇭 and Indonesia 🇮🇩 also have a few interesting telemedicine startups waiting to disrupt the market. iThermo.

Malaysia 🇲🇾

Malaysia is one of the most important market in from an economic point of view and hence healthcare is assuming a strong focus. There are about five interesting telemedicine startups in this country: DoctorOnCall, REMEDi, Naluri, ClicknCare and Healthmetrics. These startups provide solutions ranging from providing mental care services to help manage employees healthcare benefits. Healthmetrics is a B2B enterprise startup that ties up with companies to provide transparent healthcare pricing and predictive analytics to help companies budget and manage healthcare costs of the latter’s employees.

Investment opportunity:

Before the pandemic, the telemedicine market was predicted to grow to $133 billion in 2020. However, it seems like the number would now probably double by next year even as players in the segment are pushing for innovation and advancements with the help of technology as Covid continues to spread like wildfire forcing people to stay indoors and maintain physical distancing.

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