The convergence of digital technologies is helping us lead longer, healthier, more empowered lifestyles. In Asia, increasing awareness around health and wellness is giving rise to a diligent, discerning type of consumer – one that is demanding more participatory, personalised, innovative approaches to healthcare. Healthcare providers and organisations that recognise, engage and reward consumers throughout their journeys will drive improved outcomes and benefit from strengthened relationships.
Collaborative healthcare relationships
Healthcare has traditionally conjured up the image of a ‘patient’ – passive, dependent on their physician for treatment of their disease. In the more recent years, this view has shifted dramatically to that of a ‘consumer’ – one that is active, highly discerning of wait times, costs, quality and seeks to proactively manage their health. The rise of this highly informed, empowered consumer has fundamentally altered the physician-patient relationship. Armed with data from a variety of sources, consumers expect more involvement, more choice and control over decision making and seek to be engaged as partners and collaborators in their health journey. The pandemic, in addition, has heightened consumer awareness and accelerated their desire to take ownership in managing their health, lifestyle and wellness.
While trusted clinician relationships will remain central to the ideal healthcare experience, engaging consumers and patients on their terms, and on channels and touchpoints of their choice as they go through their healthcare journey will become the critical differentiator in an increasingly competitive market. Organisations that holistically map their consumer’s end-to-end healthcare journeys as they connect the dots between their lifestyle, technology, wellness and quality of life to deliver tailored engagement and interactions will win the heart and minds of this consumer.
Transparency and value
The steep rise in healthcare costs, especially in markets such as Singapore, Australia and India are driving demand for affordable healthcare and the need for increased accountability and transparency in cost-to-care. This has in turn given rise to a growing focus on value-based and outcome-based care. A study has shown that more than 75 percent of new cancer patients in South East Asia experience financial catastrophe or die within a year of diagnosis.
The imperative to innovate
The pandemic has accelerated the need for healthcare to be delivered anytime, anywhere and ‘digital first’. The region has seen strong growth in innovative technologies such as telemedicine, digital therapeutics, remote monitoring over the past few years
- For example, Ping An Good Doctor, a Chinese healthcare services platform, and MyDoc, a telemedicine platform headquartered in Singapore, have more than doubled their active users since 2020.
- China has repurposed an artificial intelligence model that was used to detect cancer to help isolate and diagnose potential COVID-19 patients in under 10
- Australia recently launched its first ‘virtual hospital’ that deployed the Caretaker Remote Monitoring platform for surveillance of COVID-19 patients in their homes to help reduce the pressure on the Australian healthcare system. The wireless device will be used to track the vital signs including heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation, blood pressure and breathing of patients with moderate symptoms in their homes.
- mClinica is a startup that is providing digital patient assistance programs across Asia to increase access to medication, improve affordability of healthcare and boost adherence rates. The platform enables registered patients to get access to free or discounted medication, while equipping healthcare practitioners and pharma companies with tools to send targeted health education messages and prescription refill reminders to patients.
With 50 percent of physicians and consumers ready to adopt innovative technologies such as telemedicine and remote care in the next 5 years, healthcare organisations and providers in Asia need to improve and innovate the ways in which they are delivering value to consumers of the future. Healthcare organisations in Asia Pacific are transforming themselves scaling, innovation hubs and adopting Agile and Design Thinking methods to rapidly deliver solutions for evolving consumer needs and behaviours across the value chain.
Personalisation in healthcare
Advances in medical science, data and technology combined with reduced cost of genomic sequencing technologies has given rise to the delivery of personalized healthcare and precision medicine tailored to individual genetic, behavioural and environmental information. Singapore for example, is ranked as the highest performer in the region for personalised healthcare readiness, as ranked by Personalised Health Index, developed by Roche and Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies. Consumers in Asia are increasingly embracing the use of sensors, wearables, smart devices that continuously track everything from vital signs, sleep patterns, caloric intake and activity levels to provide a rich, real-time behavioural profile
The convergence of these two trends has created an environment for highly proactive, personalized, preventative health solutions.
- CureApp, a startup based in Tokyo is delivering the world’s first nicotine addiction treatment via an Comprising 3 components – a patient app, a doctor app and a portable CO checker device CureApp supports patients through personalized guidance in their attempts to quit smoking
- With a fast-growing elderly population, the Yonsei University Medical Centre in Korea is developing AI based mental health services using wearables to support the elderly with depression and other mental health conditions.
Healthcare systems on the other hand are integrating datasets across the consumer or patient journey — from arrival at a hospital to check-ups, hospitalisation, treatment and hospital discharge in order to enhance holistic care and management, not only reducing the need for long hospital stays but also to support early diagnosis and alternative treatments. However, this needs to be paired with a framework for managing data, and the privacy and security implications that come with it. Success (and failure) will hinge on the trust and comfort levels a consumer has in sharing their most intimate information with providers.
While innovative technologies such as personalisation, remote monitoring, telehealth, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics offer opportunities to improve the relationship between the healthcare consumer and healthcare provider, the real value will be driven through seamless integration and orchestration of the end-to-end experience and solidified through trusted consumer-clinician relationships. Healthcare organisations that can deliver this, through smart technology utilisation will benefit not just from increased patient outcomes, loyalty and satisfaction, but also see increased efficiencies and improvements in operating models. [APBN]
- Australia’s first ‘virtual hospital’ for COVID-19 patients use Caretaker Medical wireless patient monitor for remote monitoring and reporting. (2020, April 6). Retrieved from https://caretakermedical.net/australias-first-virtual-hospital-for-covid-19-patients-use-caretaker-medical-wireless-patient-monitor-for-remote-monitoring-and-reporting/
- D’Arville, L., Mehra, S., Boulton, A., Kapur, V. (2020) Asia-Pacific Front Line of Healthcare Report 2020. Retrieved from https://www.bain.com/contentassets/a1d1395b809d424a8db679657f95b19d/bain_report_asia-pacific_front_line_of_healthcare.pdf
- Firzberg, R. (2021, January 21). Singapore leads region in personalised health innovation. Retrieved from https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/opinion/singapore-leads-region-in-personalised-health-innovation
- Improving Cancer Care in South East Asia – The ACTION Case Study. (2015, August 18) Retrieved from https://www.georgeinstitute.org/improving-cancer-care-in-south-east-asia-the-action-case-study
- Kapur, V., Boulton, A. (2020, April 27) Covid-19 Accelerates the Adoption of Telemedicine in Asia-Pacific Countries. Retrieved from https://www.bain.com/insights/covid-19-accelerates-the-adoption-of-telemedicine-in-asia-pacific-countries/
- La Mola, F., Sunderland, S., Sasidharan, A., de Salaberry, J. (2020, April 23). COVID-19 and the Acceleration of Digital Health in APAC. Retrieved from https://www.lek.com/insights/ei/covid-19-and-acceleration-digital-health-apac
- Priyadarshini, K. (2020, October 22). Re-envisioning healthcare: Hospitals, pharmaceuticals and communities. Retrieved from https://news.microsoft.com/apac/2020/10/22/re-envisioning-healthcare-hospitals-pharmaceuticals-and-communities/
About the Author
Hema Thiagarajah is Vice President, Client Partner for Appnovation APAC. She has spent the past 15 years driving digital and customer strategies for organisations across the Asia Pacific region.