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Digital Diagnosis – How Apps Can Help Bridge ASEAN’s Healthcare Gaps

Access to healthcare services is something many of us take for granted. For an estimated 400 million people around the world today however, access to medical support remains a pipedream including 65 million people living in various parts of Southeast Asia.

While new policy, and long-term investment in health infrastructure, equipment, and education are essentials to drive medical expansion and enhance access, technology-based health solutions could also make a more immediate impact in emerging ASEAN markets.

A wired region

ASEAN is home to 330 million monthly internet users, and the mobile phone penetration rate is more than 100%. In addition, the internet economy in ASEAN’s six largest markets – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – is estimated to reach $200 billion by 2025, up from $50 billion in 2017 according to a recent article published in the Korea Herald.

Given the high-level of connectivity, and use of mobile devices across ASEAN, health apps could make a big difference in reaching, and treating millions. Globally, GE works with app developers to find new solutions to established healthcare challenges.

Life-enhancing apps

Mobile app technologies addressing unique medical challenges in ASEAN have been developed, with more on the way – here are a few of the standouts available today.

1. Doctor Anywhere – Telehealth consultations

Geographical isolation, ignorance of symptoms, and work, financial, or lifestyle burdens are some of common reasons why people do not visit a doctor. Responding to these challenges, Doctor Anywhere – a Singapore-developed app – provides simple symptom assessment and virtual consultations from GPs to enable patients to receive a basic healthcare consultation without having to travel. Demand for this type of app is attracting strong interest from tech, health and finance players – globally the telehealth market predicted to reach US$113.1 billion in value by 2025.

Original Doctor Anywhere video on YouTube can be found here.

2. Khushi Baby – Wearable medical records

Developed at Yale University, the Khushi Baby app aims to tackle the challenge of maintaining updated healthcare records for babies and children around the world – especially infants born in emerging countries, and remote areas. This simple wearable device integrates with a user-friendly app to provide a lifelong medical passport for children in all parts of the world.

Original Khushi Baby video on YouTube can be found here.

3. Eversense – Continuous glucose monitoring

A ‘slow-motion healthcare disaster’ is how the World Health Organization describes the significant rise of diabetes cases in recent years. ASEAN nations are not immune , Malaysia for example, has some of the highest rates of diabetes in the region, with as much as 19% of the national healthcare budget spent on obesity/diabetes-related illness.

Regular monitoring of glucose is fundamental to tracking, and treating diabetes, and “implantables” are poised to make a big impact. The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first implantable glucose monitoring device manufactured by U.S. medical technology company Senseonics. Implanted under the skin, this device (which lasts up to 90 days) provides integrated communication with a mobile app to deliver real time updates and alerts on glucose levels.

Original Eversense video on YouTube can be found here.

4. Alodokter – Healthcare information access

Delivering “right patient information at the right time” is the inspiration for the Indonesian healthcare platform Alodokter. By providing high quality, impartial healthcare information in Bahasa Indonesian and English, Alodokter is an affordable healthcare access app that could transform the health and well-being of low-income communities. From this, Alodokter aspires to build a comprehensive digital ecosystem for the health sector connecting vital data held by doctors and hospitals.

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