In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been increasing focus on improving healthcare systems as well as their accessibility. The widespread use of smartphones, along with expanding connectivity networks, has catalyzed the development of digital healthcare in Asia.
According to McKinsey, digital healthcare has impacted the lives of around 1.5 billion people in the region. It is estimated that the adoption rate of digital healthcare in developing Asia is 2.5 times the rate in the United States. In fact, the digital healthcare market in Asia is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19% from 2019 to 2024, reaching the size of US$79.2 billion, based on Frost & Sullivan data.
Digital healthcare offerings are varied and include tools such as telemedicine, where doctors can virtually connect with patients in remote areas to provide consultations and observations, thereby easing the burden on hospitals and saving time/cost for patients.
Other mobile health applications are integrated with wearable devices. These allow patients to better track their health and provide up-to-date information to medical professionals to determine their treatment during an emergency.
Despite the promise of better healthcare for a greater number of people, there are still challenges to be addressed such as the lack of interoperability and standardization among different systems and devices. And given the amount of data being shared, there are concerns as to how sensitive medical data are stored and who has access to such information.
Nevertheless, the demographics and sentiment are there in Asia to foster further investments into digital healthcare. It is estimated that 25% of the region’s population will be over 60 by 2050; that’s about 670 million people compared to only 56 million in the US by the time.
Around 79% of Asian consumers have expressed an interest in health maintenance and lifestyle changes, with 72% seeking convenience and better quality of care, according to a Bain study.
This need for better services has been particular evident in China where there have been major advancements in the healthcare industry. “China is home to many leading players in the field of digital healthcare, including Ping An Healthcare and Technology, JD Health, and Alibaba Health. Through years of development and innovation, the leading platforms in China have accumulated an enormous customer base,” states a recent Citi GPS study. “For instance, as of mid-2022, Ping An Healthcare and Technology had provided over 1.3 billion consultations since the company’s inception in 2014 and recorded over 440 million registered users, indicating one in three people in China had access to the platform.”