Everyone has Googled their symptoms at least once in their lives. This is a good indicator that healthcare was never meant to be limited to physical clinics and hospitals in this digital age.
According to the Digital Service and Data Platform Division of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the future of digital healthcare in Malaysia is one that shows rapid growth and demand.
Today, people aren’t just “Googling their symptoms” — the internet plays a much, much bigger role than that. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, not only have 80% of people searched for health information on the internet (including diet/nutrition, exercises, medicines, and quick remedies), many also reported that the internet had affected their health decisions, or the health care providers they choose to visit.
The Impact of Digital Health on Healthcare
One of the key drivers of its adoption in Malaysia is the proliferation of mobile technology, which has fundamentally altered how people communicate with one another and how they manage their personal lives.
Other drivers include the shortage of physicians and nurses, improvement in communication infra and technology, and the fact that the industry has achieved consensus that healthcare IT can transform care delivery systems. At this point, there are few reasons why healthcare shouldn’t go digital.
As the consumer’s role in healthcare evolves, the digitalization of healthcare has already begun changing the way doctors interact with their patients, and how patients modify health behaviors.
With digital health, patients move from a clinician-centric sense of dependency to a consumer-centric sense of accountability. In simpler words, patients now have more control over their health.
Digital Tools At Your Disposal
There are many digital tools emerging in the market now, among the most popular ones in alignment with the current Covid-19 landscape are MySejahtera, SELangkah, MyTrace, and GerakMalaysia.
Globally, big tech names are coming up with digital health solutions as well. Apple and Google are working together on building a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform into the underlying platforms, to help governments and health agencies break the COVID-19 chain.
Other than preventive tools like the aforementioned, there are also digital health ventures like Carepool Asia that serve to offer people affordable healthcare and ease the process of appointment-making, consultation, check-ups, and diagnosis.
Alex Lee, Founder and CEO of Carepool Asia, tells Snappymob that the Work-From-Home arrangement becoming a permanent option offered by many employers provides a major catalyst for digital health to grow.
“Digital health itself is a simple concept albeit a broad one. It is defined (by Paul Sonnier, the author of The Fourth Wave: Digital Health) as the convergence of the digital and genomic revolutions with health, healthcare, living, and society.”
Since digital health is so wide and covers many areas of concern, a single digital healthcare solution and tool can’t solve every problem at once — there has to be a focus. For Carepool Asia, the innovative digital health venture focuses on three main pillars of services, which are telehealth, medical travel/tourism, and specialists search/appointment.
Making digital health accessible
When it comes to pricing, Alex says the Carepool Asia team believes strongly in the democratization of digital health. “Our business model is based on Software-As-Service (SaaS) subscription, and keeps it as affordable as possible for households”, he says, “All you need to do is pay for the monthly subscription fee and we will take care of the rest.”
Adoption, a rapid yet gradual process
Alex also shares his thoughts on how society may still need time to gradually warm up to digital health:
“The democratization of digital health is taking shape not just in SouthEast Asia but, all around the world. It’s akin to low-cost airlines, online banking and online food delivery, where these services are made available at scale to a large population at a competitive price point.
I vividly remember that during the introduction of online banking in the early 2000’s in the region, such innovative technology was perceived as untrustworthy and insecure. Fast forward to 2020 today, I would be utterly surprised if anyone did not use online banking, especially among Gen-Y and Gen-Z. I would probably be shunned by my friends, family, and business associates if I didn’t transfer funds or accept payments online.
Clearly, once you realize the benefits of digital, you can never go back.
Inevitably, the emergence of any technology-enabled product requires time for customers to fully understand its value proposition. The adoption of online banking took more than 10 years, but we hope the benefits of digital health won’t take as long for consumers to come to appreciate.”
It Begins With You
Comparable to online banking, digital health services especially telehealth provides patients an array of benefits. Check out Carepool Asia’s plans that are designed to provide customers added convenience, flexibility, and affordability.
Alex signs off with a little note to Malaysians living in the digital age — “The digital health revolution begins with smart, digital savvy consumers like yourself. We invite you to join the bandwagon.”