Could telehealth increase SEA’s access to healthcare?
WHILE Southeast Asia’s economy has grown in leaps and bounds in the last decade or so, access to healthcare remains a challenge for certain parts of the region.
Enabled by the latest technology and increased connectivity, one viable solution to the problem could be telehealth.
Malaysia based DoctorOnCall, an up and coming telehealth vendor in the region, provides on-demand medical consultation service via web chat, video or phone calls spoke exclusively to Tech Wire Asia to highlight the market opportunity in the region.
“When we first started three years ago, a lot of people we very reserved. They were unsure if it will work or if the doctors will get on board the platform.
“However, but in the last two years, due to increased digital connectivity via smartphones and increased participation of the insurance providers, the platform is really taking off, ” said DoctorOnCall Co-Founder and Director Maran Virumandi.
Further, DoctorOnCall has also recruited more doctors on their platform – over 70 physicians and counting – which inspired more patients to use the platform.
Telehealth platforms are already prevalent in the US and Japan. More recently, China – due to shortages of doctors – is emerging as a major marketplace for telehealth platforms.
Ironing out the UI/UX kinks
But among the major challenges for the providers to truly flourish comes in the form User Interface/ User experience. Maran admits that there are limitations to what the platform can do.
However, DocOnCall has continually responded to market signals in efforts to innovate and improve patients’ experience. The platform initially started with video-chat capabilities and realized that some patients still preferred regular voice calls and text messages.
That led the company to open up all three channels of communications.
Beyond that, the platform also now allows for sending photo and document attachments for better communication with the physicians.
As more insurance companies are recognizing telehealth platforms as a critical component of the healthcare ecosystem, claims processing will also be integrated within the platform, said Maran.
Strategic partnerships – exciting future
Recently, DoctorOnCall announced a collaboration with Tune Protect. The partnership allows for free medical consultations for all Tune Protect policyholders.
Maran claims that partnership with Tune Protect will open up greater market access to the platform and will help the digital service gain even more traction in the market.
“There are other companies that are seeking a tie-up with us, to be able to provide our services as employee benefits,” Maran said, adding that the services can be extended to the families as well.
The platform has already partnered with e-wallet vendor Boost, and is currently in talks with a few other e-payment platforms and insurance companies, signaling exciting times ahead for the brand.
DoctorOnCall attracts over half a million visitors to its website where patients can find resources and other materials in regards to health care, as well as links and referrals to seek professional opinions.
From the looks of it, the market in Malaysia is ripe for the picking for DoctorOnCall, and the next natural step is to expand into regional neighbors – Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, – where the population is massively underserved, healthcare wise.