There is no one size fit all for healthcare. Source: Shutterstock

Healthcare tech won’t take off if companies don’t change

PEOPLE are living longer thanks to advancements in science and technology.

However, a longer lifespan doesn’t necessarily mean that people are healthier. In fact, living longer can put a significant strain on medical resources, due to a greater demand for specialist cares, pharmaceutical drugs, as well as care services.

Many digital healthcare companies are using new technologies to ease the burden on hospitals and clinics. From genetics testing to online information platform, health tech companies enable users to take charge of their own health.

However, those efforts don’t always successfully reach its intended audiences.

As a person grows older, the risk of having at least one chronic disease increases. With an increasingly aging population, the proportion of elderly persons who would need care service will soon far outweigh the number of young people who can provide the necessary care.

As such, more and more people are valuing their health. At the Wild Digital conference last week, co-founder and group CEO of genetics company Prenetics, Danny Yeung, observed that more and more people are searching for health information by themselves.

“Companies needs to be more attuned to the markets. For example in Hong Kong and Singapore, people are more interested in nutrition and quality of life; whereas in Malaysia and Indonesia, people are more concerned about understanding diseases and prevention,” he explained.

Prenetics provides genetic testing, which allows users to determine if they are genetically at risk for certain diseases. Users can then visit a genetics counselor to determine the measures to take for reducing certain risks. This is one of the ways that health tech helps users take charge over their own health.

“It’s about how to create value for users, enabling them to make positive changes to their lifestyles because of this,” he added. “Treatment should always be personalized. With genetic testing, you know what drugs work, or not, for you.”

Joining him was Alodokter’s Founder and CEO, Nathaneal Faibis. Faibis echoed his sentiment, “You need to understand how the market works and adapt your solutions based on that. Certain markets would have a larger population of government-subsidized health care; in other markets, the industry might be driven by private healthcare and private insurances.”

Alodokter is a content platform that compiles information written by doctors, providing users with medical information from a trusted source. The site sees around 15 million people per month.

“For us, the question is how we can reach out to people with chronic diseases, like diabetes or chronic cough. We want to communicate with them, but it’s hard to identify these people. There are no outward signs that differentiate them from other healthy people.,” Faibis noted.

To Faibis, he wants to ensure that the information his company provides online is not only accurate and reliable but at the same time easy to understand. This allows users to make easy decisions according to their situations.

Yeung and Faibis both believe that for digital healthcare to truly help the population in need, it needs to provide the right information to the right people. It will then empower the population to take charge of their own health, instead of relying on services provided by healthcare providers.

Yeung surmised, “A lot of digital health company are not gaining traction because, in reality, they have no strong business model. They are not local.”

Healthcare is a very local and personal topic; there won’t be a one size fit all model. Looking at the offerings in Yeung and Faibis’s companies, it is clear that for digital healthcare to make an impact, it needs to cater to the local audience.