Updated on 22 November 2016
Asia's M-Health revolution
Singapore: Imagine being housebound for 2-3 days due to terrible snow or a bad storm! Your baby has severe fever and all roads are blocked. What a bad situation to be in! However with a smartphone in your hand it is not all that bad. With scores of healthcare apps at your disposal you can see a doctor immediately from the comforts of your home and in some cases even get a medicine prescribed. In the not-so-distant past, patients had only one source for healthcare expertise - their personal physicians. They relied on doctors to monitor their symptoms, track changes in their health, manage their diseases and personalize their care. But in recent years, mobile technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) has changed it all. Today, smartphones are affordable, are of a very high quality, and every other person has a smartphone. Entrepreneurs, companies, and organizations across Asia are cashing-in on this huge penetration of smart phones with novel healthcare apps that promise to resolve many healthcare issues and speed improvements to healthcare delivery.
Healthcare apps are dramatically making healthcare more convenient, less expensive, more preventative, and in many cases downright better. It is estimated that there are now approximately 165,000 health-related apps which run on one or other of the two main smart phone operating systems, Apple's iOS and Google's Android. PwC, a consulting firm, forecasts that by 2017 such apps will have been downloaded 1.7 billion times. Increased access to smartphones and the internet suggest that the mobile health market will enjoy a compound annual growth rate of more than 30 percent during the next four years. Allied Market Research values the global mobile health market at nearly $11 billion. With the number of mobile phone users in the Asia Pacific expected to grow from 2.5 billion to more than 3 billion in the coming years, mobile health technologies will become even more accessible. By taking advantage of these trends, medical device companies can tap into a growing market that is demanding better, cheaper healthcare services.
" Dr Jacques Durand, founder of Doctor Gratis and Medical Director / International Health Consultant Medika Consulting explained, "Technological innovation is the key to many of healthcare's current and growing woes--including costs, an expanding elderly population and inefficiencies within the healthcare system. From the physician side, a better collaboration between family doctors and specialists, using digital technology to keep records and share information, and giving greater priority will increase productivity. All healthcare professionals will use digital tools for develop real time care team services for delivering better medical outcomes."
Doctor Gratis is an app for people in Indonesia to get free live consultation with a doctor. There are two teams who helped produce the app. The first is Warung Kreasi which develops the app. Second is Medika Consulting which takes care of the chat function and social media operations. Doctor Gratis is also a partner of Singapore-based medical social platform Blabla Doctor.
A huge increase in the usage of smartphones, particularly in India and China, has empowered the middle class to access such apps to solve some parts of the healthcare problem. As they use apps more often, startups are able to generate more data on patients, which in turn helps them design better products. Going forward, healthcare startups that generate and analyse big data will be attractive opportunities for investors. Data is changing healthcare, by improving clinical intelligence by combing through vast amounts of data. With users becoming more conscious of health, and earn higher salaries, both health and wellness app makers have a huge market to tap.