The international health emergency currently plaguing the world has initiated a surging demand in digital healthcare in Vietnam, opening doors for telemedicine startups offering solutions that go well with social distancing efforts.
Thriving health apps conquer market, illustration photo
Alain Huynh, deputy CEO of eDoctor, told VIR that there are always opportunities in times of crisis, especially for healthcare services. Digital healthcare and telemedicine are the future, which will bring healthcare services directly and efficiently to people, and enable citizens to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The ongoing pandemic is speeding up and empowering digitalisation in many areas, including healthcare.
eDoctor offers a digital platform which connects its users with doctors enabling social distancing. The demand for its online consultation increased at least 200 per cent in the past few weeks and will most likely continue to grow further.
So far, eDoctor has provided latest updates and guidelines verified from the authorities to its app users, and its booking and at-home services help people with chronic diseases to stay away from crowds. In an effort to support the community, eDoctor’s online consultation service is now free of charge.
Raghu Rai, CEO of Jio Health, told VIR that COVID-19 is a behavioural tipping point for consumers across the world. It has and will indelibly change the way we travel, work, and live. “This pandemic has elevated our collective health consciousness and revealed structural challenges across our global economy, infrastructure, and healthcare systems,” Rai said.
“Given mobility limitations alongside risks transmissions at traditional care facilities, consumers are beginning to embrace telemedicine as a convenient medium. Our team of over 150 doctors is providing free telemedicine consultations nationwide and around the clock, in an effort to democratise access to quality, affordable care,” he added.
Jio Health provides telemedicine across a diverse range of specialties including pediatrics, internal medicine, and eye care. Its volume of telemedicine consultations has doubled within the past month and the startup anticipates continued growth.
Furthermore, Jio Health has recently launched a free COVID-19 Telemedicine Assessment that enables individuals to privately consult with a licensed specialist to understand their potential risks for the new disease and receive guidance on topics including prevention, immunity, and treatment.
Similarly, Doctor Anywhere has launched its in-app service COVID-19 Advisory Clinic to provide accessible and affordable healthcare during this unprecedented time. Through video consultancy, a professional doctor is available within minutes. Signs and symptoms of infections can be identified, and if necessary, the Doctor Anywhere Care Team will arrange further medical assistance. The startup has recorded increasing numbers of online engagement towards its app, with around 350 calls per day.
Nguyen Thanh Phan, CEO of Doctor Anywhere Vietnam, said that this is just the right time for digital healthcare services to come out onto the map and reveal their qualities. “In the time of pandemics, these advantages become essentially perceived. Before the pandemic, the idea of a digital alternative where patients can see a qualified doctor online within five minutes was nearly not thought of. Users are now more open to digital healthcare due to its benefits,” Phan said, stressing that COVID-19 is not an opportunity but a timely educator to lift up the bar for digital healthcare services.
Health-tech startups are currently receiving more capital to meet the surging demand. eDoctor has just raised a new round of funding from Japan’s CyberAgent Capital and Genesia Ventures, as well as South Korea’s early-stage venture capital firms Bon Angels and Nextrans.
Meanwhile, Doctor Anywhere announced it has secured a $27 million Series B financing round. This investment marks the agile growth of the health app. In Vietnam, Doctor Anywhere aims to diversify and optimise its products and services, bringing its accessibility to the majority of people.
Health-tech startups are upbeat about the outlook of Vietnam’s digital health services. Rai from Jio Health told VIR that with a young, tech-savvy consumer population and bright, ambitious medical talent, Vietnam is uniquely positioned to leapfrog traditional models of care. Vietnam’s annual out-of-pocket healthcare spending amounts to $6 billion and accounts for nearly 40 per cent of total healthcare expenditures.
“With an average age of 27, Vietnam’s population is still young enough to embrace technology as a gateway to healthcare services that could prevent the onset of chronic diseases. As a result, there is a greater incentive to invest in proactive care that empowers healthy living,” he added. VIR
The technology of a Vietnamese startup is helping hundreds of thousands of people tohave access to online medical examinations with doctors via video calls.
Last year, VinaCapital’s flagship fund, Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF), invested US$25 million in a private hospital operator, Tam Tri Medical Joint Stock Company.