Healthcare Asia (March 2022)

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FROM THE EDITOR The pandemic has gone on for longer than most people have expected. While several Asian countries were severely hit by a more infectious variant of COVID-19, those who were slightly less scathed did their best to prevent the spread, even if it meant closing more borders.

PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tim Charlton PRODUCTION TEAM Janine Ballesteros Lucia De Guzman Vann Villegas Jeline Acabo

People turned to digital health services as a means to access much-needed help amidst sporadic lockdowns and travel restrictions. Read more about the paradigm shift to digital health on page 28.



One such digital health service that is doing its best to bridge the gap in accessing help through tech is reach52. You can read our interview with reach52 Founder Edward Booty on page 8. ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTS DEPARTMENT ADVERTISING EDITORIAL

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But access to digital services also opens up the floodgates to not only cybersecurity risks but also misinformation. Qilik ASEAN asks the question: has misinformation become a public health issue in Singapore (page 48)? And congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Healthcare Asia and Healthcare Asia Pharma Awards. Find out more about the top companies in the business on page 32. Best of health to you all.

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FIRST 04 China heightens pharma exports to SSA 05 Over 12 million e-prescriptions issued in Australia 06 AsiaPac hospitals brace for patient

HEALTHCARE INSIGHT 12 Vaccination in Asia is slow as it faces supply constraints

FEATURE PROFILE 08 How reach52 bridges the gap in access to healthcare using tech

ANALYSIS 28 Healthcare consumerisation in the


18 Bumrungrad Int’l Hospital eyes providing ‘world-class holistic healthcare’

COUNTRY REPORT 20 Telemedicine aids Thailand health care woes 24 Taiwan’s healthcare financing to pose risks for drugmakers

Published Biannually on by HK: week of the Month by Published Bi-monthly on the Second Charlton Media Group Room 1006, 10th Floor, Charlton Media Group SG: 299QRC, 287-299 Queen’s 101 Cecil St. #17-09 Tong Eng Building 101 Cecil St. #17-09 Tong Eng Building Road Central, 2 HEALTHCARE ASIA Singapore Singapore 069533 069533 Sheung Wan, Hong Kong



rise of digital health


backlogs 07 7 ways Indonesia could boost its healthcare supply chain



32 Find out who won at this year’s Healthcare Asia Awards and Healthcare Asia Pharma Awards 42 Better healthcare decisions depend on better data collection

OPINION 48 Has misinformation become a public health issue in Singapore?

To access the stories online, visit the website


Pain Points of Primary Care in China


hina’s primary healthcare has been undergoing reform these last few Pain Points of Primary Careover in China years. The general public goes directly to hospitalshina’s for minor ailments and common chronic primary healthcare has been problemsundergoing instead of their General Practitioners reform over these last few (“GPs”), due in part mistrust, GPs’goes seeming years. The to general public directly to incapability, overall perceived lower qualities hospitals for and minor ailments and common chronic in primaryinstead care infrastructure. As aPractitioners result, China’s problems of their General GPs are due underpaid, and under-recognised. (“GPs”), in part to mistrust, GPs’ seeming incapability, and overall perceived lower China has only initiated its vocational GP qualities training in primaryover carethe infrastructure. a result, most China’s program recent years.As However, GPs are underpaid, and under-recognised. training is led by hospital specialists, who naturally

have experience in its handling common Chinalittle has only initiated vocational GP training primary addition, training is programcare overproblems. the recentInyears. However, most traditionally and specialists, assessmentwho is mainly training is leddidactic, by hospital naturally knowledge-based withinminimal have little experience handlingpractical common -orientation. primary care problems. In addition, training is traditionally didactic, and assessment is mainly knowledge-based with minimal practical UMP’s Unique Approach: -orientation. the Accredited GOLDTM Training Program UMP Healthcare Holdings Limited (722.HK) is one UMP’s Unique Approach: of the major Health Maintenance Organisation TM the Accredited (“HMO”) service GOLD providersTraining in HongProgram Kong and began to provideHoldings services Limited in China(722.HK) over 10 years UMP Healthcare is one ago. The lackHealth of appropriately trained family of the major Maintenance Organisation doctors be a major hurdle in develop(“HMO”)proved serviceto providers in Hong Kong and ing a strong HMO services networkininChina China.over In order to began to provide 10 years address of the problem, UMP family Healthcare ago. Thethe lackroot of appropriately trained China Limited thehurdle General doctors provedestablished to be a major in Practice developTM Learning and Development Oriented ing a strong HMO network in China. In(“GOLD order to”) program to enhance public confidence and trust address the root of the problem, UMP Healthcare in GPs Limited and the established quality of community-based China the General Practice primary Orientedcare. Learning and Development (“GOLDTM”) program to confidence Our GOLDTMenhance Training public Program provides and trust in GPs and the quality of community-based up-to-date, evidence-based and practical training primary care. for GPs in China. Its uniqueness that is localised

TM and practicality has achieved by the Our GOLD Training Programaccreditation provides Royal College of General Practitioners (“RCGP”), up-to-date, evidence-based and practical training and quicklyfor recognised by Chinese local that was is localised GPs in China. Its uniqueness municipal governments; the number of trainees and practicality has achieved accreditation by the rose an original 11 GPs from Panyu district in Royalfrom College of General Practitioners (“RCGP”), the Bay Area in 2018,by toChinese now over 1,000 andGreater was quickly recognised local GPs and nurses across China. municipal governments; the number of trainees rose fromisan originalvia 11 several GPs from Panyu district in Training provided modalities: the Greater Bay Area in 2018, to now over 1,000 GPsOne andmajor nurses across 1. topic perChina. week

Training is provided via several modalities: 1. One major topic per week

Launching ceremony of UMP’s GOLD TM Training Program and PPP clinics in collaboration with Yuexiu District, Guangzhou City of Guangdong Province in China. TM week, been up in incollaboration over 100 community 2.Launching One online casesofdiscussion per ceremony UMP’s GOLD Training Program and PPPset clinics with Yuexiuhealth District, centers of various regional governments in the focusingCity onofthe weekly topic Guangzhou Guangdong Province in China. Greater Bay Area. HMO clients can now visit 3. Prior flipped classroom and other these high and accessible been set upquality in overaffordable 100 community health 2. additional One onlinereading cases discussion per week, materials to clinics by regional trained family the centersmanned of various governments focusingflexible on the training weekly topic provide according to Greater Bayrun, Area. HMOhealthcare clients cancosts now can visitbe trainees’ needs In the long public 3. Prior flipped classroom and other these high quality TM affordable and accessible -trained doctors will have reduced, GOLD reading materials 4. additional Face-to-face workshops oncetoevery clinics experience, manned by trained doctors. better and willfamily receive better provide training according to 6 weeks,flexible promoting hands-on income because of HMO remunerations. Thebe trainees’ needs In the long run, public healthcare costs can experience on various consultation and TM also see for themselves the general public will -trained doctors will have reduced, GOLD examination techniques 4. Face-to-face workshops once every high of well-trained GPs, thus betterqualities experience, and will receive better 6 weeks, promoting hands-on 5. Quarterly assessments, involving written completely overhauling the present negative income because of HMO remunerations. The experience knowledge on andvarious clinicalconsultation assessment and in the impressions. general public will also see for themselves the examination techniques form of “OSCE” (Objective Structured Clinical high Untapped qualities of Potentials: well-trained GPs, thus Vast Examination) 5. Quarterly assessments, involving written completely overhauling the present negative Post-Pandemic Era knowledge and clinical assessment in the impressions. The GOLDTM Training Program has provided form of “OSCE” (Objective Structured Clinical The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge China GPs with a unique opportunity to Vast Untapped Potentials: Examination) challenge, but also a huge opportunity for enhance their skills, and to translate their Post-Pandemic TM GOLD Training Era Program. UMP’s online TM immense base to provide Training Program has provided The GOLDknowledge training for family doctorshas and nurses has The COVID-19 pandemic been a huge patient-centered care to the general China GPs with a unique opportunity to become even The Group for has challenge, butmore also apopular. huge opportunity population, which into turn improve their enhance their skills,will and translate their TM also developed its telemedicine platform in GOLD Training Program. UMP’s online self-confidence and social status. immense knowledge base to provide China, seamless for trainingpromoting for family adoctors andtransition nurses has patient-centered care to the general TM seemore GOLD -trained become to even popular. Thedoctors Group online has Initial Focuswhich on GBA acrosstheir China: patients population, willtoinExpand turn improve and offline. UMP’s training has now been in also developed its telemedicine platform the UMP-branded Clinic Network self-confidence andPPP social status. extended to Myanmar and Thailand, where China, promoting a seamless transition for Training alone will not be sufficient to address TMfor improvement in there is huge demand patients to see GOLD -trained doctors online Initial Focus on GBA to Expand across China: China’s existing problems. UMP-branded primary care. and offline. UMP’s training has now been the UMP-branded PPP Clinic Network public-private-partnership (“PPP”) clinics have extended to Myanmar and Thailand, where Training alone will not be sufficient to address there is huge demand for improvement in China’s existing problems. UMP-branded primary care. public-private-partnership (“PPP”) clinics have




India’s hospitals

India’s hospital industry is witnessing a huge demand from both global and domestic investors, and there is a tremendous interest in tertiary care hospitals and specialty hospitals in particular, according to a report from NITI Aayog. The government’s plans to ramp up budgetary allocation for public health spending to 2.5% of the country’s gross domestic product by 2025 will benefit the hospital sector. Currently, there is a gap between the number of beds available and the number of beds required. India’s hospital bed density is less than half the global average of three hospital beds per 1,000 population. Demand for health services is rising in Tier 2 and Tier 3 locations across the country. The per-capita income in these locations has risen rapidly over the past few years, the report noted. “Further, inputs such as land and labour are available at a lower cost in these cities. An added advantage is that these locations can also cater to the population in nearby villages and towns” the report added. There are nearly 600 investment opportunities worth $32b (INR2.3 lakh crore) in the hospital and medical infrastructure sub-sector on Indian Investment Grid, a platform maintained by Invest India. The hospital industry in India accounts for 80% of the country’s healthcare market. It was valued at $61.79b in the financial year 2017 and is expected to reach $132b by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 16-17%. NITI Aayog said that the long-term outlook for the hospital sector is stable, with annual revenues likely to rise over the next few years on account of rising domestic demand for healthcare and medical tourism. 4


Chinese drugmakers to grow market share for pharma

China heightens pharma exports to SSA ASIA


lthough India will remain a key pharmaceuticals supplier to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Chinese drugmakers are expected to ramp up the competition and grow their market share in the region over the coming years, according to a 2021 Fitch Solutions report. India has been the top supplier of pharma products in almost all SSA countries over the past years, supplying over 50% of total imports in major markets in 2020. It accounted for over 55% of total imports in Zimbabwe and over 20% of total imports in countries like South Africa and Nigeria. As such, the COVID-19 outbreak in India could impact the supply of medicine in SSA. Because of SSA’s high dependency on India, any disruptions in India’s pharmaceutical industry will pose downside risks to the region’s pharmaceutical market. “The coronavirus outbreak could create a supply chain gap, as we note that there are a number of

India remains a key supplier of medicines in SSA, but Chinese competition on the rise

travel restrictions imposed on India including temporary suspensions of flights, which could hinder supply to SSA markets,” Fitch added. Multinational drugmakers outside of India are expected to benefit from India’s slowdown, as other manufacturers of generic medicine could expand their import share in SSA as more countries seek alternative suppliers. Medicines manufactured in China have grown in importance across the region over the past 10 years, with pharmaceutical exports from China to Africa more than doubling from $5.4b in 2011 to $13.2b in 2020, Fitch noted. Still, SSA is expected to remain highly dependent on Indian medicines, driven by the country’s expertise in producing affordable generic drugs. Indian pharmaceutical companies are the largest providers of generic medicine in the world, and African markets benefit from these price competitive drugs, the report noted. India is also expected to continue assisting SSA in developing its healthcare sector. At the last IndiaAfrica Forum Summit held in New Delhi in 2015 that brought together representatives from all 54 African countries, the two parties disclosed plans for cooperation. One of the plans in the healthcare sector included enhancing joint efforts in health and pharma development, as well as in telemedicine and traditional medicine; in combating diseases; and in ramping up the efficiency of health institutes through training programs and coordination to harness modern scientific and medical technologies.

xxx Per ITCcapita - Tradetotal Map, expenditure Fitch Solutions on health

Source: ITC - Trade Map, Fitch Solutions

FIRST Electronic prescriptions provide a safer, faster, and more efficient supply of prescriptions to Australians

E-prescriptions provide a safer, faster, and more efficient supply of prescriptions

Over 12 million e-prescriptions issued in Australia



ver 12 million electronic prescriptions have been issued in Australia, as healthcare providers and patients go digital, data from the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) revealed. “Electronic prescriptions are providing a safer, faster, and more efficient supply of prescriptions to Australians – in person via their doctor or a telehealth consultation –

sent straight to their mobile phone or by email,” ADHA’s CEO Amanda Cattermole said. More than 22,000 prescribers are now issuing electronic prescriptions to patients and at least 98% of all community pharmacies around the country are dispensing them, Cattermole noted. Charlotte Hespe, a general practitioner (GP) with a practice in inner-city Sydney, said the

transition to electronic prescriptions is straightforward for GPs, noting that most practice management software now has the capability to issue electronic prescriptions to patients. “If it is a patient’s choice to receive an electronic prescription instead of a paper prescription, then the GP just needs to select the electronic script option instead of ‘print’ when issuing a prescription,” Hespe said. In October 2020, Sydney’s five million residents were given access to e-prescriptions. This followed the rollout across all of Victoria in September 2020. Through this, a patient seeking an e-prescription from their doctor will have their doctor select this option in their software when creating the prescription and the patient will receive an SMS or email. The patient then takes this to their preferred pharmacy. The SMS or email contains a QR code “token” that unlocks the electronic prescription from a secure, encrypted electronic prescription delivery service. Once scanned, the token allows the pharmacist to view the prescription and dispense the medicine. Last June, ADHA rolled out Provider Connect Australia, where healthcare organisations around the country can update information about their services and practitioners in just one place, eliminating the need to keep multiple directories up-to-date manually, as was the previous requirement.



hina has made its latest patent amendments effective, with reforms that aim to ensure protection against untimely and unfair generic competition. Thus, the local pharma market makes itself more competitive and conducive for research companies according to a GlobalData report. The latest reforms include the drug patent linkage system, the patent term extension for drugs, and the patent term compensation system. Patent reforms by China will be viewed as a greater opportunity to incentivize research and bolster entry into the world’s second-largest pharma market. Despite being a generic market historically, the country has made reforms to drive research. The pharmaceutical industry of China is expected to reach $300.9b by 2025 at a compound annual growth rate of 12.2%.

Top 5 Patent Authority Rankings by Grants in H1 2021

Source: Global data




AsiaPac hospitals brace for patient backlogs

Per capita total expenditure on health xxx


India’s Covaxin


he United Nations’ (UN) refugee agency has urged for an “immediate and stronger support” for the global COVAX initiative for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, amidst vaccine shortages especially in the Asia Pacific region, according to a date of news release. Although Asia Pacific countries host the vast majority of more than 80 million forcibly displaced people around the globe, they have benefited from only a fraction of the world’s COVID-19 inoculations, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “UNHCR is adding its voice to the calls for countries with surplus doses to donate to COVAX, and for manufacturers to boost supplies to the COVAX facility,” said UNHCR SpokespersonAndrej Mahecic. Included in its regular budget, UNHCR’s total financial requirements for COVID include $455m in supplementary needs and $469m in COVID-related activities. To date, including projected contributions, UNHCR has received $252.8m or only 27% of these financial requirements. Concern over the situation in the region continues to rise as the number of cases has surged to the largest increase globally. UNHCR stressed that the pandemic will only be defeated when vaccinations are available everywhere “on an equitable basis.” Some 38 million COVID-19 cases have been recorded along with more than half a million deaths. “The lack of hospital beds, oxygen supplies, limited intensive care unit capacities and scarce health facilities and services have worsened outcomes for those infected with COVID-19, particularly in India and Nepal,” said Mahecic. Amidst overcrowded settings, limited water and lack of sanitation facilities, refugees remained at risk of COVID-19. Mahecic noted that there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases amongst refugees and asylum-seekers in Bangladesh, Nepal, Iran, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. 6



ospitals across the Asia Pacific have expressed plans to cope with the backlog of deferred procedures, following a downturn in elective surgeries and patient consultations for the past year resulting from the pandemic, according to a report from L.E.K. Consulting. In Australia, the return of patients to hospitals has caused higher wait times to between 240 and 365 days for nonurgent elective surgeries. Hospitals have been looking to their business partners to help with these types of challenges: a third of respondents ranked improving efficiency as one of the top three areas for which they are looking to medtech companies for help. “This is in line with overall priorities, as 52% of hospitals indicated improving labour efficiency to be a top five priority. Hospitals have also indicated the increased use of digital solutions,” the report stated. The pandemic-driven downturn in elective surgeries and patient consultations has affected hospital revenues, and there are still uncertainties surrounding patient volumes in the future, as hospitals are unable to predict possible future surges that may cause a change of operational posture and priorities. “As a consequence, this year also saw a reduction in planned capital expenditure for medical devices and equipment, especially for diagnostic imaging equipment, and to a lesser extent clinical support appliances. Compared with last year’s survey, fewer hospitals expect an increase in capital expenditure over the next three years,” the report added. Compared with last year’s report, fewer hospitals expect an increase in capital expenditure over the next three years. However, this is not true across all medical device categories, as nearly seven out of 10 of those surveyed are looking to spend more on medical consumables, up from five out of 10 in the previous year.

The return of patients has caused higher wait times for non-urgent elective surgeries

The pandemicdriven downturn in elective surgeries and patient consultations has affected Australian hospital

The top three strategic priorities amongst hospitals in the Asia Pacific are emergency preparedness, recovering from the financial impact of COVID-19 and improving healthcare worker safety. In particular, emergency preparedness remains a crucial, ongoing priority. “Despite being able to control the spread of the pandemic initially, many countries have still been hit with subsequent waves that are proving harder to control,” the report added. Further, hospital spending over the next three years is expected to decrease: the share of hospitals planning to increase spending fell from 30%-40% to 15%-25%. Although most hospitals in the region are showing more conservative planned spending compared to last year, Australia and China indicated planned spending sentiment similar to that of the previous year. “On average, about 40% of hospitals in both countries intend to increase spending across all categories. Pandemic response aside, governments in the region have been trying to rein in healthcare costs. A specific example is drug cost management policies in China and Japan,” the report added.


7 ways Indonesia could boost its healthcare supply chain INDONESIA


he problems in Indonesia’s healthcare system have become more obvious as facilities struggled to obtain the supplies required amidst the surging pandemic. Thus, the Australia-Indonesia Centre (AIC) has highlighted seven ways for the country to build a “smart” healthcare supply chain. The first is to develop an end-to-end digital platform that provides a central view from supply to procurement. Digital supply chains are currently fragmented, with different departments in the same hospitals using different systems. Further, the applications in use appear to be rudimentary and tend not to be integrated. All stakeholders are urged to integrate through a single platform that enables transparent operations and centralised or joint procurement. All hospitals can view it in realtime for planning and demand management. The second is to have centralised logistics for all government hospitals. AIC found that hospitals in the country currently conduct

their own procurement and manage logistics, which is not the most efficient alternative. Third: ramp up the flexibility of the e-catalogue. The inflexibility of government procedures and bureaucratic processes has been hampering the effectiveness of hospitals’ supply chains, AIC said. Fourth is to make sure there are effective quality and safety monitoring functions. Centrally managed standards continue to be implemented, even when greater flexibility and autonomy for procurement is facilitated in urgent cases. Fifth, the system must encourage standardisation and interoperability, which could also facilitate resource-sharing across hospitals. “Standardisation of supply chain practices and interoperability of digital technologies across the healthcare sector would facilitate better integration and learning, with hospitals better able to share knowledge. ,” AIC said. Sixth, hospitals must ensure transparency

Indonesia must build a “smart” healthcare supply chain

and traceability are built into all-digital supply chain solutions to reduce fraud and ensure accountability. “Electronic tagging, robust supplier registration processes, and better traceability of the upstream supply chain via systems integration can eradicate counterfeit medication,” the report stated. Last is to develop data analytics capability, which is critical for effective supply chain management in all hospitals. “Current analytics seem to be limited to forecasting at best. Real-time solutions, such as real-time streaming analytics, need to be part of the digital solution,” AIC said.




Through tech, reach52 aims to connect with more partners for better services

How reach52 bridges the gap in access to healthcare using tech The unique startup aims to connect to 250 million individuals across the globe by 2030.


ounder and CEO Edward Booty is driven by his years in healthcare and tech consulting to reach far-flung communities in developing countries. Bringing reach52 to life was not an easy feat and powering through the past year became more of a challenge to grow amidst the trials brought about by the pandemic. As the company reaches out to more individuals to promote health care, they also aim to connect with more private, public and nonprofit partners to improve the services that they offer. Speaking with Healthcare Asia, Booty said that their services are made possible with the help of technology. Using offline apps that don’t require the internet, reach52 trains agents and government workers in more rural and non-urban areas to collect information on what type of needs must be given attention to in their partner communities. 8


Tech allows healthcare services to reach more private, public and nonprofit partners

From the data collected, reach52 organizes activities and holds events that will cater to specific communities’ needs, such as screening, public health events and access to doctors. These are delivered in the communities themselves, coordinated by the network of agents. The name “reach52” came from a World Bank and World Health Organization statistic in 2018 which showed that 52% of the world had lacked access to essential healthcare. With years of experience in India and experience in digital health consulting in the UK, Booty started reach52 five years ago in Singapore to hopefully bridge this gap. Funded mainly by the private sector and partnering with pharmaceutical companies, reach52 says it can provide medicines, insurance and consumer health products at a lower cost alongside the primary health services. Some examples are medicine for

hepatitis which are offered at $5 instead of $30, and maternal health scans for $9 which usually costs about $20. On top of this, the travel can be about three to five hours to drive to the city hospitals, so the services are both more convenient, affordable, and save on the time and cost of travel. “We collect the data and have these people in the communities coordinate the health services, then the private sector will provide capital whilst the government provides human resources. High quality medicine and other essential health products and services are delivered in the community through better trained health workers. ” he said. “We do make a small margin on those medicines that we deliver and that’s how we’re keeping our service sustainable, but we also bring health care to the communities and save people money for their health care

FEATURE FEATUREPROFILE PROFILE access costs, which is a key part of our mission to enable health for all,”. Booty said that whilst this is the ideal scenario for all the communities they reach out to, there are a couple of challenges that they currently face such as country regulations and laws. However, on top of that is the overall lack of digital maturity in health systems especially in developing countries. “The digital maturity of the health systems would be one of our biggest barriers but I’d break that down more. There is really unhelpful or prohibitive regulation in many countries. For example, prescriptions still have to be on paper and not digitized, or telehealth and virtual consults are not allowed. Insurance paperwork has to be physically signed. A lot of these regulations do block us, or just create inefficiencies and more cost in a segment where affordability is key” he said. “Secondly, on the digital maturity of the users, not all have smartphones and often there’s no internet. This means there is a need for high amounts of training and effort to actually embed these systems into place. Offline working is just painful, software development is more expensive and harder. Then we have to sync the phones periodically which causes all sorts of operational issues, The lack of payments infrastructure and thus cash also adds to costs and risk” he added. ‘reach52 for business’ According to Booty, reach52 is a mix of B2B and B2C financing. They earn from small delivery fees on the medicines and on insurance plans that they deliver. Additionally, B2B partnerships are essential for sustainable financing that will help them continue servicing emerging markets and more rural, non-urban areas; as well as enabling getting access to more affordable products.These partnerships included screening, health awareness campaigns, health worker education, and other relevant services that strengthen primary healthcare. “We actively work with the private sector to do market research, helping them understand the gaps in the markets for their product, run

screening campaigns, run health worker education in certain disease areas, raise awareness of certain health issues, but then also really look to get affordable products from them and open up a new market for social business. Then, we actively promote and sell them, again, noting regulation around health care marketing.” he said. “We really span that whole spectrum of going from the research to strategy, running the services at communitylevel, engaging in the health workers, and then give access to products and services at the end of that as well, managing the ordering, payments and supply chain. That’s really what we do with our business partners, we give that end-to-end service,” he added. Working with different groups in both private and public spheres, they’re enabling sustainable health system services and last-mile access to products in markets where others don’t reach, so there aren’t direct competitors. However, the undiagnosed are the biggest threat. “I do always say that our biggest competitor in that space is people doing nothing because about two thirds of diseases are undiagnosed in Asia. People just don’t know they have diabetes, they don’t know they have hypertension, because they’ve never been able to find that out” he said. “We’re always working with these patients to really understand what they do have and help them to understand why it’s important. They might buy medicine from us, or the alternative or the competitor, but the alternative to that is them just not knowing they have hepatitis and getting liver cancer because they’ve done nothing, or having their child die at birth from an avoidable complication we could spot with a simple scan” he added. Connecting to 250 million by 2030 Booty said that reach52 is scaling by targeting to be present in more countries within the next decade. After a successful launch in India over the past year amidst the pandemic, new ways for them to connect with more communities have opened. “The way that we’re doing that is very much working with partners on the ground. With NGOs, which we have tried in India given the COVID

The lack of digital maturity in health systems is a big barrier to healthcare access

restrictions that were put on us, worked really well. We paid NGOs to help us recruit the field force and recruit these health workers that use our tech and enable access to health care and rural areas,” he said. “It’s really efficient. NGOs get another revenue channel and we get quicker growth, leveraging that sort of trust network and ability to recruit and train people in regions. Ultimately, it is faster growth for us and is more affordable. We save money by doing it that way versus just going to all communities alone,” he added. Currently present in three markets, particularly Philippines, Cambodia, and India, reach52 is set to expand this year beyond Asia and into Africa. They have just hired the first team members in Indonesia and Kenya. “We’re doing okay in three markets. Now, we are launching in Indonesia and we’re also launching in Kenya later in the year and starting to look to build out our presence in Africa,” he said. “Expanding our B2B relationships is also key, but its a slow game as its quite a fundamental rethink of entrenched business and commercial models for our partners, albeit the global sentiment, in my view, is shifting towards impact, sustainability and profit with purpose.” “We are looking to be in five markets by the end of the year and connect 250 million people to health care by 2030,” he concluded. “COVID-19 has shone the light on how weak yet essential health systems are, and we’re going to do something about it. Watch this space.”

The reach52 promise: affordable and accessible healthcare for all




Alexandra Hospital bags Healthcare Asia Awards for Patient Care Initiative of the Year - Singapore Its Care Consolidation programme reduces the patient’s need to transfer to various healthcare institutions for their appointments.

Dr Neeta Kesu Belani (Project Lead), Mylene Virtudazo Malinao (Nurse Manager), Golda Wang (Senior Pharmacist), Jessica Tan (Senior Occupational Therapist), Malcolm Koh (Medical Social Worker)

Caring for a population of 1.1 million across 26 precincts in the Western region of Singapore has always been the driving force that motivates Alexandra Hospital (AH). AH, which has been under the National University Health System (NUHS) since 2018, serves as a 326-bedderfacility that provides seamless, one-stop comprehensive care by one care team to some 100,000 residents in Queenstown precinct (the oldest housing estate) and Southwest and the rest of Singapore. Intending to redesign healthcare with and for humanity, AH brings seamless integrated carebeyond discharge and enables continuity of care anchored in the safety and comfort of the home and community. Driven to redesign healthcare with and for humanity, it also aims to develop technologically-enabled, innovative healthcare as well as personcentric solutions that enable best practices to be scoped, shared and scaled. AH’s patients are predominantly elderly and with multiple co-morbidities. Many patients have appointments at different institutions. This leads to care fragmentation, frustrations in navigating the system(s), duplicative tests, unnecessary costs and inconvenience for patients and their caregivers. Care needs to become holistic again and re-centred around the patient and caregiver. This led AH to be the first integrated general hospital in Singapore that provides holistic and seamless care from acute, sub-acute to rehabilitative settings. Through 10


its Care Consolidation programme, the patient’s need to transfer from one healthcare institution to the next is significantly reduced. To start the project, the hospital’s team decided to start to consolidate the outpatient appointments of inpatients at AH. To create a user-centric process that integrates the needs of the care team, patients and caregivers, the project team adopted a Design Thinking Approach. The team also aimed to create impact and deliver value as early as possible. They adopted Scrum, an Agile framework whereby work was broken into Sprints or time-boxes of 2 to 4 weeks. Since Care Consolidation is a new concept in Singapore, the team also had to create a brand-new process from scratch. Their two objectives were to assign a principal doctor who works with other AH healthcare professionals as a care team to each AH patient and minimise their patients’ number of appointments. Over a span of six months, the monthly percentage of AH inpatients that were care consolidated was between 13% and 26%. The majority of patients who had their number of appointments reduced had one to three fewer appointments, across different institutions, on different days. After care consolidation, they are now seen at AH’s Integrated Care clinic. The cost savings over a year for

consultation fees alone equate to at least a few hundred dollars per patient on average. Time and costs incurred for travel and consultation are greatly reduced. Patients also don’t get frustrated from getting asked the same questions by different doctors. Apart from the benefits mentioned in earlier sections, Care Consolidation reduces the patient load at the outpatient clinics as each principal doctor manages multiple conditions for each patient. This means more clinic slots were available for patients who need them and waiting time for appointments could potentially reduce. Dr Neeta Kesu Belani, who has been leading care consolidation for more than two years now, credits the good effort to a multi-disciplinary and close-knitted team at AH who work in the hospital and in the community. Through design processes such as field research, role-playing and prototyping, the team has come up with solutions it hopes can help plug the gaps, especially amid Singapore’s changing social landscape. “We were looking at how we might encourage patients to keep up with their appointments, how we can make it easier for them, which is how the one principal doctor concept came in,” Belani said. “This involves building rapport with the patient, so that the patient doesn’t need to repeat the story to a different doctor each time. One care team who had known the patient as an in-patient when admitted and then followed the patient up as an outpatient, also makes for a safer and better experience for the patient. With one stop care, the patient can get to multiple health points here, but with only one trip here to AH,” she added. As the first in Singapore to adopt agile principles and methodologies in redesigning a care process, Care Consolidation is a concept that makes a patient’s health journey much more manageable for the patient and the caregiver. AH hopes to inspire other hospitals and healthcare institutions to shift to a more patient-centric paradigm in care planning and delivery care.

AH hopes to inspire healthcare institutions to shift to a more patient-centric paradigm in care planning and delivery care




Vaccination in Asia is slow as it faces supply constraints

Fullerton Healthcare, Global Doctors Hospital, Sunway Healthcare Group shares how hospitals and health institutions help out in the rollout—from administering jabs and educating the public to encouraging vaccination.

Managing expectations on the ground on vaccine ability is one challenge in public vaccination -CEO Ho


t the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a constant reminder to the public to wear face masks, maintain social distancing, and clean their hands, among others, from health authorities to protect themselves from being infected. Now, vaccines have been developed and are being rolled out as part of the fight against COVID-19. Whilst no vaccine is 100% protective, the World Health Organization said approved vaccines provide “high degree of protection” against getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19. The WHO said that the public must continue observing health measures despite being vaccinated to prevent the transmission of the virus. According to Our World in Data, 4.59 billion doses have been administered globally, with 31.2% of the world population having 12


Vaccination in Asia is progressing relatively slow in terms of the population covered

received at least one dose and 23.5% fully vaccinated, as of 14 August. It said that 4.7 billion doses have been administered globally. In Asia, only 24.43% of the population have been fully vaccinated and 7.2% have been partly vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. This is compared to the 43.68% fully vaccinated in Europe and 7.8% partially vaccinated, whilst 40% have been fully vaccinated in North America and 12% have been partly vaccinated. “Vaccination in Asia is progressing relatively slow in terms of the population covered so far compared to the European Union and the US. Governments in various countries are trying their best to improve the vaccination rollout, but the supply constraints could limit their efforts,” Prashant Khadayate, Practice Head of Pharma at GlobalData, said.

Rollout challenges Sakshi Sikka, Senior Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Analyst, Fitch Solutions, also cited supply issues as one of the main drivers for the slow vaccination pace in Asia. This is also partly due to the “sheer size of most countries’ populations.” “Many Asian markets continue to lag behind the global average vaccination rate and are now facing vaccine supply issues because India, the third largest global manufacturer, has paused exports,” she said. “China and India are running the world’s largest vaccination drives. Despite an early start, China and India’s vaccination programme have made slower progress than in the US and the EU.” Wealthier nations such as Japan and South Korea have also mounted slow vaccination campaigns mainly due to supply issues and manpower challenges, she said.

HEALTHCARE INSIGHT: VACCINATION Khadayate also said that based on GlobalData’s COVID-19 dashboard, the EU is leading globally based on the total vaccine contract volume, followed by the US, showing that these regions have already secured the bulk of the vaccine supply. There is a need to meet the “demand-supply gap” as many developed countries are still struggling to meet the demand in their countries. According to Fitch Solution’s report published in May, only Singapore, Bhutan, and Mongolia were the countries that will achieve vaccination of priority population, or the frontline healthcare workers, people ages 65 years and above, and those with underlying conditions by end June. Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Thailand are seen to vaccinate its priority population by end-September 2021. Bangladesh, Indonesia, Laos, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Vietnam were expected to vaccinate its priority group by endFebruary 2022. Myanmar, meanwhile, which vaccination programme has been affected by the political situation in the country, will vaccinate its priority population by end-December 2022, according to the report. Fitch also said that several markets in the Asia Pacific region rely heavily on vaccine supplies from COVAX facility, which is co-led by World Health Organization, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi to ensure “fair and equitable” access for every country. It said that this may be affected by export restrictions from India where Serum Institute India, one of the suppliers of COVAX, is located. The WHO said previously that herd immunity or population immunity can be achieved if a “substantial proportion” of a population would be vaccinated, lowering the amount of virus spreading to the whole population. It said that this varies per disease, citing 95% requirement for measles and 80% for polio. Moody’s Analytics report in July said only Singapore is approaching herd resilience with just above 50% of its population, approaching the situation in US and Europe where

“at least in many of their large population centers, it is becoming possible to live with COVID-19 as an endemic disease.” Moody’s said Cambodia, Hong Kong and Japan are at above 25% and there is also accelerating vaccination around the APAC, notably in China, Japan, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Korea’s vaccination slowed, whilst India struggled to accelerate. Countries such as Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand are experiencing challenges in acquiring sufficient supply but were expected to achieve herd resilience by 2023. “Much of the rest of the region will reach this point some time next year,” it said. According to Singapore’s Ministry of Health, 75% of the population has completed a full regimen of COVID-19 vaccines and 81% received at least one dose as of 13 August. The WHO also said that whilst some virus variants have slight impact on the ability of vaccines, the vaccines “are likely staying effective” against them because of the broad immune response they cause. It said that it continues to review evidence and update its guidance on vaccines. Health institutions and hospitals have been in the frontline in attending to COVID-19 cases from testing, isolation and treatment. But they are also engaged in their respective national vaccination programmes, from administering the vaccines to leading in educating the public on vaccination.

Sakshi Sikka

Ho Kuen Loon

Mohamed Sahriff

Prashant Khadayate

Fullerton Health, which is present in nine markets across the Asia Pacific and owns over 500 facilities, cited “managing expectations on the ground on vaccine ability” as one challenge, Group CEO Ho Kuen Loon said. Ho said there are also challenges in cold chain logistics to store the vaccines, as some locations they were sent do not have air-conditioning, and crowd management as mass vaccination centres that cater up to 4,000 people a day were also among the challenges in the vaccine rollout. “All these challenges are solved through partnership with other industry leaders, pharmaceutical, refrigeration, events management company, grassroots organisation and most importantly government agencies,” he said. Mohamed Sahriff, assistant director of Medical and Business Development at Global Doctors Group in Malaysia, said that there is a challenge arising from the nontech savvy population in using the digital application for contact tracing, COVID-19-related information and vaccination and in reaching out to those in rural areas, he said. There are also individuals who are reluctant in getting the vaccines which Global Doctors Hospital sees can be addressed by awareness and proper information. Jefferies said experts they have spoken to said the SARS-COV-2 virus “will likely be with us for some time,” it said In a July report, and its end is not when the virus vanishes, “but a better definition might be when

Share of people vaccinated against COVID-19, Aug. 14, 2021

Source: Our World in Data



HEALTHCARE INSIGHT: VACCINATION mortalities from COVID-19 start to resemble influenza in a typical year.” “When that happens, we will have moved back to what some might call ‘normal’, albeit with publichealth measures still in place,” it said, adding that monitoring, potential revaccination and isolation of cases are still needed to control risk even when herd immunity is achieved. It also noted that the rapid spread of more contagious variants is a “stark reminder” to places employing “eliminate or zero COVID strategy” that border and movement restrictions may not be a substitute for mass vaccination programs. It said that countries leading in terms of vaccination rates have seen outbreaks but significantly fewer deaths and hospitalisations. Vaccine hesitancy Vaccine hesitancy is not a problem with the majority of the people but it is still present among some due to lack of confidence in vaccine effectiveness, Khadayate said. He said that this can be by proper education and with both governments and hospitals focusing on COVID-19 vaccine awareness. “Clear and consistent information is key” in improving the vaccination programme, Steve Cochrane, Chief APAC Economist at Moody’s Analytics said, adding that consistent implementation in all countries as well as hiring enough healthcare workers are also critical. Lau Beng Long, managing director of Sunway Healthcare Group (SHG) in Malaysia, also noted that awareness and continued education about vaccines are more important. He said the group has initiated “Vaccine Matters,” which is a series of educational messages debunking myths about vaccines. Sahriff said Global Doctors Hospital is conducting initiatives in promoting confidence in the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines. “Recognising that vaccination campaigns of the magnitude needed are unprecedented, actions by the private hospitals to garner trust will be essential to the success of the vaccination rollout process, and to the emergence of more resilient societies after the crisis.” Khadayate also said that hospitals are also publishing studies 14


Hospitals are actively involved in vaccination rollout, procuring vaccines from pharma companies

Steve Cochrane

Lau Beng Long

with statistics on the benefits of the vaccines to the healthcare workers which help in increasing trust in the vaccines. They may also provide incentives for those vaccinated, it might not be the “key driver” as it is important to educate the public on its benefits. “Their COVID-19 vaccinationrelated confusion is further boosted as vaccinated people are still getting positive and become critical and die in some instances even after complete vaccination. Hence, it is crucial to run educational initiatives which inform the public about vaccine-related anxiety and instill confidence for COVID-19 vaccination,” he said. The role of hospitals, health institutions Khadayate said hospitals are “actively involved” in the vaccination rollout, with many big hospitals procuring vaccines from pharma companies and partnering with corporates to run vaccination at offices and holding mass vaccinations. Lau of Sunway Healthcare also said the partnerships with private sectors such as private hospitals and general practitioners (GP) clinics, and non-government organisations aided in speeding up vaccination rollout. He noted that Malaysia has one of the fastest vaccination rates, giving out more than 500,000 doses daily. “Private sector has an important role to support the country’s vaccination programme by providing clinical management, e.g. doctors, nurses and pharmacists for vaccine administration, counselling and

observation post-injection,” he said. Lau said SHG was the first in the state of Selangor to train healthcare workers in administering the COVID-19 vaccines and inoculate healthcare workers in the district during the Phase 1 implementation of the vaccination program in Malaysia. It converted the convention centre in its flagship hospital Sunway Medical Centre as a vaccination hub at the end of February. The medical centre was then appointed to vaccinated senior citizens and Sunway Medical Centre was appointed as the healthcare organiser in managing the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre, vaccinating up to 5,500 doses daily. Two more of its subsidiaries, Sunway Medical Centre Velocity and Sunway Specialist Centre Damansara were appointed as vaccination centres. As of 8 August the four vaccination centres have administered over 326,000 doses. Lau also emphasized that accessibility is important in reaching the public for the vaccination programme, noting that public and private partnership in the rollout can help in achieving herd immunity faster. “Resources from private hospitals and GP clinics can help the country to increase its number of public vaccination centres,” he said. “Mobile teams can be set up in order to reach out to more rural communities.” Fullerton Health supports the respective government’s plans for the inoculation programme, Group CEO Ho said. “We work very closely with government agencies to enable last mile service delivery to the people. Whether it is managing people coming to our clinics for vaccination, or setting up and running mass vaccination centres or mobile vaccination teams that goes deeper into the heartlands to reach as many people as possible,” he said. In Singapore, Fullerton Health runs 10 major vaccination centres and 3 mobile teams delivering 1.6 million shots, whilst in the Philippines, it runs a drive-through vaccination site and five other sites for local government. It also has 46 GP clinics giving COVID-19 vaccines across Australia as part of its national vaccination rollout and has given more than

HEALTHCARE INSIGHT: VACCINATION 45,000 jabs. In Indonesia, it has obtained a license to administer COVID-19 vaccines, pending government allocation of vaccines, but is expected to start by the fourth quarter, Ho said. Sahriff of Global Doctors said the hospital is also a part of the National Immunisation Programme of Malaysia starting in May wherein the government allows private hospitals and medical centres to be a vaccination centre, where they currently administer 80 to 100 vaccines a day to the general public. Their primary care facilities also take part in the vaccination rollout and for factory workers as part of the National Immunisation ProgrammeIndustry. Global Doctors have vaccinated close to 4,000 individuals daily since June, he said. “The ability for Hospitals to be more engaged in the vaccination roll out process can alleviate some of the challenges we are currently facing and accelerate the vaccination process to achieve herd immunity,” he said. Benefits for health institutions Hospitals and health institutions are also set to benefit when vaccine coverage reaches the majority of the population as the likelihood of COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalisation would decrease. “Once, risks of the COVID-19 are minimum; hospitals will see more inflow of patients for Outpatient consultations and elective surgeries. It will, in turn, drive the overall hospital revenues,” Khadayate said. Sikka of Fitch Solutions said hospitals will be able to focus on surgeries and screening programmes that were postponed because of the pandemic. During the pandemic, Fullerton Health observed that footfall at its retail clinics and inhouse corporate clinics have fallen but they saw a rise in demand for testing and vaccination services by companies and governments. They also adopted digital services such as Telemedicine. “Our seamless integration of online and offline medical services will hold us in good stead. In addition, the pandemic has led many large corporation to seek consultancy services to cover health as a core corporate function. The ability to ensure normal operations and keep

their employees safe is critical in a post pandemic world,” he said. Lau of SHG also said that herd immunity will reduce the number of infections and critically-ill cases, allowing the health system to cope and will also help reduce the workload and pressure on healthcare resources and facilities. The speedy rollout of the vaccine will hasten economic recovery in Malaysia, Sahriff said, adding that it will lead to people becoming more health conscious and seeking treatment without the fear of contracting severe COVID-19 symptoms. Medical tourism resurgence is also expected in Malaysia across regions. “Global Doctors Hospital also believes private healthcare facilities will have a big part to play in the travel bubble initiative to keep COVID-19 infections at bay, especially for domestic and international travellers,” he said. Economic impact The vaccine rollout is also important in the economic recovery in Asia, Cochrane said. “The key to economic recovery is to minimise the need for lockdowns that constrict domestic demand, and in some cases production for export markets as well. High vaccination rates minimize the severity of COVID infections and mortality rates, and thus allow policy makers to be more lenient on movement controls,” he said. Cochrane said that when it is shown that vaccination rate is lowering the transmission of the virus, the severity of the illness and mortality rate, “then lockdowns, which hobble the economy, can be eased and ultimately eliminated.” According to a Moody’s report, the spread of the Delta variant, which is more transmissible, is disrupting the economic recovery in Southeast Asia as this prompted governments to impose lockdowns and travel restrictions. The imposing of stricter social distancing measures in different countries, although not scheduled for a long period, slows domestic spending. “Our forecasts for the third quarter across much of APAC are revised lower, but some recovery is expected in the fourth quarter.”

The vaccine rollout is important in the economic recovery in Asia

Moody’s also said that lifting movement restrictions in Asia Pacific and reopening domestic economies rely on vaccinations. “Despite the struggles to contain the current wave of COVID-19 that create considerable risk, under assumptions that the global economy continues to support export trade and the APAC domestic economies can ease out of current movement restrictions, acceleration in the fourth quarter will ensure positive economic growth for 2021,” it said, noting that Global GDP this year will be around 5 to 5.5%, above its 3% potential growth rate as it recovers from last year’s recession. Moody’s said there were three risks to the outlook for 2022 and 2023: the first is the insufficient vaccine supply, or governments and public health systems incapable of managing logistics of large-scale vaccination programs. Other risks were the timing of normalisation of fiscal and monetary policy, and the household and corporate debt “that has been under debt payment moratoriums since the pandemic emerged” as they may struggle to make payments and reduce expenditures on goods and spending when debt holidays end. “But if the economy performs as expected and accelerates once again in the fourth quarter and into next year, these risks will be minimized,” it said. by Vann Villegas

The speedy rollout of the vaccine will hasten economic recovery




Align Technology reshapes the future of treatment It was recognised for its Invisalign Virtual Care and Invisalign Virtual Appointment tools.


lign Technology is a global medical device company with a vision to bring clear aligner orthodontic treatment to the masses. The company pioneered the digital orthodontic market with the introduction of the Invisalign system 22 years ago and continues to innovate products and technologies to help doctors transform smiles and change the lives of their patients. With 15 million orthodontic case starts annually and more than 500 million consumers who can benefit from a better smile, the market for digital orthodontics and restorative dentistry is massive and has been unleashed by the need for digital. In a macro sense, COVID-19 has accentuated the digital economy across industries, and many dentists and orthodontists are embracing digital treatment in new ways and more purposefully than ever before. With over 24 years of innovation in digital orthodontics and dentistry, including iTero intraoral scanners and digital workflows, Align is focused on bringing the latest technology to doctors and their patients through the Align Digital Platform, an integrated suite of unique, proprietary technologies and services delivered as a seamless, end-to-end solution. Dentists and orthodontists who are Invisalign providers are now using virtual tools to optimize in-office appointments and deliver doctor-directed, personalized treatment that meets the needs of the moment – and will re-shape the future of treatment. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Invisalign doctors around the world pieced together video calls, texts, and patient-submitted photos through a variety of platforms to help monitor patient progress, reduce in-office appointments, and ensure continuity of patient care during treatment. In response, Align Technology launched a new set of digital tools to support doctors. These solutions included the Invisalign Virtual Care and Invisalign Virtual Appointment tools that were built into the My Invisalign App. These tools were both designed to further enable doctors to manage and continue a range of practice services to communicate and connect with their patients



during lockdown periods when their clinics were not allowed to be opened. The idea to build a collaborative platform between doctors and prospective Invisalign patients was developed as a proof of concept during a hackathon. Using design thinking, a simple journey was developed with photos and a video that would be shared with doctors on a weekly or bi-weekly basis based on the aligner schedule. Doctors review these photos and share their feedback from their doctor portal through a bi-directional channel between the doctor and the patient. Invisalign Virtual Appointment is now available in 14 markets in Asia Pacific, with over 1,500 active Invisalign doctors using the tool to provide patient access. The Invisalign Virtual Appointment tool enables doctors to easily schedule and host HIPAA-compliant video appointments to discuss Invisalign treatment with patients. Invisalign Virtual Care, which is currently available in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, India Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam can be used for remote consultations once treatment begins, assessment of treatment progress, and communicate adjustments or concerns during treatment. These tools help to deliver great outcomes and product performance that benefits both doctors and patients. Feedback to date for these tools have

been positive, as doctors adopted these tools to improve patient experiences and increase office efficiencies.









Gary Ho - Vice President, Marketing, Asia Pacific, Align Technology

Invisalign Virtual Appointment App

Our tools help deliver great outcomes and product performance that benefits both doctors and patients













10 million smiles transformed. 10 million lives changed.



© 2021 Align Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Invisalign, the Invisalign logo, among others, are trademarks and/or service marks of Align Technology, Inc. or one of its subsidiaries or affiliated companies and may be registered in the U.S. and/or other countries. | MKT-0004619 Rev A




Bumrungrad Int’l Hospital eyes providing ‘worldclass holistic healthcare’ CEO Artirat Charukitpipat shares the plans and achievements the hospital has achieved under her leadership.


umrungrad Hospital has been providing services to its patients both locally and internationally for four decades. Despite the challenges faced by the industry, Bumrungrad, a quaternary care hospital, has continued to adapt and innovate by providing “highly complex” medical care and by investing in data management, amongst others, to improve the services it provides to its patients. Healthcare Asia spoke with CEO Artirat Charukitpipat to talk about the recent initiatives, achievements, as well as plans of the hospital to attain its goal of providing worldclass and innovative healthcare. What are the principles that guide Bumrungrad in providing services to its patients? For four decades, Bumrungrad International has been guided by the principles that are most appreciated by our patients: We aim to provide care with the highest quality and safety at International World Class standards, with world-renowned Thai hospitality. We don’t rest on our past successes; instead we continuously move forward pushing the boundaries, improving on our best with scientific and academic-based innovations. By being quick to adopt new technology and innovation in the fields of IT, precision medicine, and genetics enable us to be “future ready”. Most importantly, it is our people whom we engage and develop, who drive our success. Our brand is not only highly visible in our community, but we are part of the community—engaging and building on trust and sustainability with good governance and ethics. Can you tell us what recent innovations Bumrungrad has integrated in its services? With the current situation, Bumrungrad has been an early adopter in providing care for our international patients through the telemedicine platform and backed that up with medication delivery and mobile laboratory and radiology services for our local patients. We are at the forefront in genetics and precision medicine and have integrated this platform into our clinical practices. Our patients benefit from knowing which medications will cause adverse reactions even before they take the medication and our doctors can adjust the medication dosages accordingly to optimize therapeutic benefits. We have deployed advanced marketing technology which enables us to efficiently engage our patients through all social media platforms. The technology 18


We don’t rest on our past successes; instead we continuously move forward pushing the boundaries, improving on our best with scientific and academicbased innovations

Artirat Charukitpipat, CEO, Bumrungrad International Hospital

helps us effectively analyse and integrate data from these platforms for active engagement of our patients. We also have innovated and developed solutions in postCOVID-19 “wellness” with the new business model implementation in our main campus. What achievements has Bumrungrad Hospital attained under your leadership? In the healthcare industry, Bumrungrad International Hospital stands out as a quaternary care provider, offering highly complex medical care with advanced innovations. With the international quality standards, each year, international patients from over 190 countries all over the world make up for 50% of Bumrungrad patients, or more than 520,000 patients. Dealing with the pandemic during the past years, Bumrungrad has put in place the highest level of monitoring and screening measures for the COVID-19 virus adhering to the country’s national guidelines. The COVID-19 Command Center was also set up to respond accordingly to the changing situations daily and the Hospital Incidence Command System is comparable to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control standards. Moreover, Bumrungrad International’s medical laboratory was the first private hospital laboratory in Thailand to be certified to undergo

INTERVIEW COVID-19 testing in Thailand by the Department of Medical Sciences Ministry of Public. Bumrungrad remains committed to driving the organization towards world-class holistic health care, upgrading it to a quaternary care hospital, at the top of the medical care pyramid. The hospital provides highly complex medical care with advanced innovations, including the use of advanced drugs that require highly skilled and experienced medical personnel. It is also engaged in research and development seeking innovations, drug trials, diagnoses or surgery in rare or complicated cases, and expanding negative pressure room facilities. High technology has also added to Bumrungrad’s efficiency. The drug dispensing robotic system has helped reduce mistakes that could be caused by the manual process. The ultimate goal is the zero-manual process, which should most enhance patients’ safety, the most vital key of hospital business operations. The future healthcare industry trends prompted Bumrungrad to invest in the big data management system called Bio Computing Platforms or BCP, which is one of the first in the world. This system makes it possible to link the patient’s DNA data with the hospital’s data in the Electronic Medical Record easily and quickly. The hospital also focuses on personalized prescription or predictive medicine, which involves genetic testing and offers clinical benefits. However, to achieve sustainable development in the healthcare industry, work and efforts are required on all fronts: medical personnel, new technology, modern equipment, as well as service quality. Another important factor is creating a network of allies to help expand the target customer base—capitalizing on the strengths of each ally hospital, transferring knowledge to each other, and collaborating for growth throughout the industry. This is the key to sustainability in the hospital industry today. How do you feel about Bumrungrad’s recognitions in the HCA Awards 2021? I am deeply honoured to be presented with these two awards; CEO of the Year and Diagnostics Provider of the Year. These awards, which validate the hard work and effort of our team, belong to everyone here at Bumrungrad. I would like to convey my gratitude to our Board of Directors, hospital management team, doctors, dentists, all medical professionals, every staff member, and each of our patients for their support, dedication, and long-standing trust in Bumrungrad. I truly believe that collaboration and teamwork are the fuel that enable common people to obtain uncommon results. We will continue to provide our patients with worldclass holistic healthcare with innovation in the highest safety and quality standards. As the CEO, what is it like leading Bumrungrad Hospital in the middle of a health crisis? Leading a hospital that provides healthcare services to 190 nationalities and over a million patient episodes annually in a normal economic climate prior to the health crisis was already challenging in itself. However, the challenges we now face are different and unprecedented. The decisions we make must

Bumrungrad remains committed to driving the organisation towards world-class holistic health care, upgrading it to a quaternary care hospital, at the top of the medical care pyramid

take into consideration the current scientific and evidencebased research. A strong leadership team is needed to transform our hospital rapidly with agility to address the new challenges. We plan one step ahead which makes effective communication and trust extremely important in engaging and obtaining support from all stakeholders. Although the challenges are different, our mission, vision, and core values remain the same. Our culture and DNA prior to COVID-19 are unchanged. What other challenges did you face in leading one of the top hospitals in Thailand and how did you address them? Sharing best practices within the healthcare system in Thailand and the region. We may start with groups focusing on specific areas such as IT implementation, supply chain management, patient care and clinical excellence, academics and research, etc. in the region. From there, we could progress with further collaboration, knowledge exchanges, and lastly, a consortium on healthcare in the region. As the World Economic Forum predicts a prolonged economic recession as a result of the worldwide shutdown and the economy at risk for the indefinite future, we have continued maintaining our competitive advantages of excellent clinical competency, technology adoption, harm-free patient care, new knowledge acquisition, etc. We also built additional organisational capability with transformation and building strategic alliances and new care delivery models. How has Bumrungrad helped in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic? We’ve been carrying on active and pivotal roles as part of the Thailand Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and Thailand WHO in handling COVID-19. We’ve piloted almost every project of the MoPH, e.g. Alternate State Quarantine or ASQ, then Alternate Hospital Quarantine or AHQ, then Hospitel, etc. We continue to support all these initiatives and share our practice with the community, working hard to protect patients, staff, community, and country. Can you tell us about the future plans of Bumrungrad? Bumrungrad has been successful in continuously improving our IT platform and implementing digital healthcare technology to be ready for the latest advancements in medical technology so we can present the best options to our patients and decide what is best for them. The healthcare industry is rapidly moving forward into a new era of smart hospitals and health care 5.0. Bumrungrad’s vision and goals for 2022 are to move forward and provide world-class holistic healthcare and implement innovative medical technology in quaternary care. Medical technology alone cannot achieve Bumrungrad’s mission. We realise that effective communication, healthy relationships with our clients, and collaboration are key to providing the best healthcare. Our medical professionals strive to deliver the best treatments available. We have a blameless policy and zero-tolerance approach to safety to maximize our quality standards. by Vann Villegas HEALTHCARE ASIA



Telemedicine aids Thailand healthcare woes The country’s healthcare system continues to advance digital technologies to improve healthcare services.


hilst the challenges brought about by COVID-19 are becoming more manageable and with the community becoming more aware of the effects of the pandemic, essential practices and innovations in the treatment of the virus are also becoming ingrained in Thailand’s healthcare system. The country, recognised as having one of the most advanced and efficient healthcare systems in the Asia Pacific region, was widely praised for its proactive response to the pandemic. Through a whole of society approach and ramped-up testing, Thailand has been able to deal with the virus successfully. At the same time, the acceleration of digital technologies in clinical processes have also been beneficial to Thailand’s healthcare system, being able to assist facilities and streamline processes for a more efficient practice. The use of robots are utilised to provide food and medicine, as well as to collect medical information, to limit healthcare workers’ contact to sick patients and to prevent risks. Several contract tracing applications by the government and other organisations have also been developed to locate high-risk areas and to monitor people’s movements, especially those coming from outside the country.

Thailand developed BKK HI Care, a telemedicine platform that will monitor Covid-19 patients

Keeping track of COVID-19 patients The Thai government has built a telemedicine platform to monitor COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms at home and at isolation centres. Named BKK HI Care, the platform allows doctors to monitor and follow up patients

Thailand’s healthcare system has benefited from digital technologies in clinical processes



who are isolating or receiving treatment at home. Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, Secretary to the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, assured on 04 August that “the new system will allow doctors to care for COVID-19 patients within the green and yellow levels of severity in home or community isolation.” BKK HI Care keeps records of patients’ daily food intake, treatments, prescriptions, and temperatures. Patients can also report and receive treatment advice from doctors and nurses on their body temperature and blood oxygen saturation measurements at specified times and inform the results to the hospitals right away. The platform is accessible for nurses and doctors via Windows, iOS, and Android smartphones, tablets and laptop/desktop computers. Thanakorn noted that about 285 healthcare facilities are monitoring some 9,000 patients through the platform. Moreover, the platform was built as beds at general hospitals, and field hospitals have been prioritised for more serious cases of COVID-19 patients. Those with milder symptoms can sign up with the government’s Home Isolation (HI) scheme, wherein their symptoms will be monitored continuously through the telemedicine channels. If home isolation is not possible, patients can also seek admission to community isolation centres. Government agencies involved in BKK HI Care’s creation include the Digital Government Development Agency, the National Science and Technology Development Agency, the National Health Security

COUNTRY REPORT: THAILAND Thailand current health expenditure (% of GDP), 2000-2018

Source: World Bank

Office, the Bangkok Health Bureau, and the state-owned National Telecommunications Company. Improving digital health infrastructures As emerging technologies continue to be seen in the healthcare industry advance, healthcare providers are also expected to keep up with the said development. They are expected to improve their processes and to deliver better outcomes through the utilisation of medical technology. In Thailand, a project involving a 5G-powered intelligent medical information and the full-service system is currently in the works. Called the “Thailand Health Data Space 5G,” the system for intelligent medical information is said to improve the country’s healthcare system across hospital transmission of information, diagnosis, follow-up, rehabilitation, and emergency treatment, as well as to aid in reducing congestion in the country’s healthcare system. The organisations that will work on the project are Mahidol University’s Faculty of Engineering, the Medicine and Engineering Faculties of Naresuan University, the Permanent Secretary Office of the Ministry of Public Health, and BPO firm Chanwanich. “We are going to transform Thailand into a sustainable society by connecting all sectors involved in the Thai health system to transfer information more efficiently. The use of technology and innovation will increase the efficiency of work and accuracy of the information in [the] healthcare system. The flow of information is beneficial to personnel and related medical departments,” said Anan Kanoksilp, Director of Information and Communication Technology Center, Permanent Secretary Office of the Ministry of Public Health, in a press release. “On the patient side, they benefit from the speed, quality, and safety of medical services during emergencies. The patient will be able to collect their medical history to guide and direct care for [themselves] and family members,” the director added. Meanwhile, Chanwanich chief executive officer Thanaphon Kongboonma mentioned that upgrading Thailand’s first innovative system for intelligent medical information serves the same purpose. “This time, it happens through strong cooperation that will enable all sectors in the Thai health and public health

Healthcare providers are expected to keep up with emerging technologies in the healthcare industry

systems to systematically analyse health information via connectivity. The exchange of information will occur on the same platform under world-class standards accepted by many countries,” he said. Under the 5G system, a telemedicine platform called Med Care will also be developed. The service has a high-speed digital 5G network which will be accessible for all Thai people through mobile applications. The users can define which hospitals are allowed to submit their information into the system and can notify the cancellation of permission with this application. Med Care will offer four services: the Specialist Doctors app, a remote medical consultation system via smartphone; the People app which provides access to personal health information and medical resources; the Family Doctor Clinic app where health workers can contact patients and enter patient information; and the Village Health Volunteer app which is used for surveillance, prevention and disease control, health rehabilitation and consumer protection monitoring. Thailand Health Data Space signifies the first comprehensive development of the country’s Big Data Health Information platform, which has the following components: a big data infrastructure, a country-wide information system of hospital networks, and health service applications. It can be noted that the country has been pushing for the adoption of 5G systems across industries for a while. Rising opportunities for drugmakers A Fitch Solutions report has noted that Thailand’s epidemiological features will shape opportunities for drugmakers in the pharmaceutical market, as the burden imposed by cancer in the country is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. The number of new cancer cases in Thailand is forecasted to rise to nearly 170,000 by 2025, according to data from Globocan. In September 2020, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) signed a memorandum of understanding with national oil and gas conglomerate PTT to build a factory that can produce all types of cancer treatment to allow Thai patients easier access to

Thailand pharmaceutical market forecast (2019-2029)

Source: Fitch Solutions



COUNTRY REPORT: THAILAND medications at a more affordable price. The comprehensive cancer-drugs plant will be located in Rayong’s Wanarom Industrial Estate and its construction is expected to cost ₿2.5b (US$80m). It is expected to begin construction in 2022 and commercial operations in 2027. “The cooperation to develop a cancer medicine factory is a stepping stone to improving public health, science and technology, as well as the pharmaceutical sector and medical research in Thailand. The facility will also provide resources and knowledge for research and ease technology transfers with the world’s leading cancer drug manufacturers,” Fitch Solutions said in the report. Producing drugs locally will cut the price by more than 50% and also reduce the burden of importing drugs, which costs more than ₿21b (US$670m) yearly, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Public Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. He added that the project was aimed at the local production of all kinds of drugs and chemicals for all types of cancer, as medicines are expensive. Thailand currently imports all cancer-related drugs. Meanwhile, Fitch Solutions noted that Thailand’s pharma market will continue to favour generic drugs. “Regulatory reform to support innovative drug registrations and the development of active pharmaceutical ingredients in Thailand in the coming years will be offset by the country’s poor access to healthcare and low levels of affordability, ensuring continued bias toward generics in the market,” they said. Generic drugs accounted for 60.7% of total prescription drug sales and 49.0% of the total market in 2019. With Thailand’s healthcare system being historically underfunded, the government has been pushing for reduced drug prices in the country. Fitch Solutions expects a continuation of this trend, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequent economic challenges, which will likely lead to limitations to healthcare expenditure and a greater drive towards cost containment whilst the economy recovers. “These aggressive pricing policies will lead to a greater emphasis on generic medicines to enable wider accessibility of medicines. Increased consumption in more affluent, urban areas will offset these factors somewhat, providing growth opportunities for patented drugs in selected therapeutic areas, particularly chronic diseases,” they said. Currently, pharmaceutical imports remain to be the dominant element of the country’s pharmaceutical trade landscape, and it is estimated to stay that way over the long term due to the lack of domestic manufacturers and local preference for patented medicines. However, the firm noted that exports will see more robust growth due to high demand for generic medicines in both regional and global markets, supported by the government’s recent tax incentives for pharmaceutical investment into the country and plans to increase the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, including the production of active ingredients. At the same time, Thailand’s regulatory structures are expected to limit innovations as the demand for generic drugs increase. “Thailand’s poor regulatory environment – defined 22


Regulatory reform supporting innovative drug registrations and the development of active pharmaceutical ingredients will be offset by Thailand’s poor access to healthcare

by its weak patent enforcement and an unpredictable, delayed reimbursement system – will continue to limit the attractiveness of the country to innovative drugmakers; a new government system for reaching a decision on publicly funded patented medicines will lead to greater scrutiny by the authorities,” Fitch Solutions said in their report. Looking into other concerns Whilst it is important to recognise the efforts of Thailand’s healthcare system in its digital innovation and COVID-19 response, other issues faced by the country’s healthcare system are also worth looking into now that the country is seemingly prioritising healthcare in its agenda. For instance, affordable and efficient healthcare services would not be possible without the country’s public healthcare program, the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS). Since its initial introduction in 2002, however, a substantial number of beneficiaries has utilised healthcare outside the program’s boundaries, which might indicate a policy gap between the people’s needs and services available to them. This indication, together with financial risks and the rise of ageing population, have been a concern and a pressing factor for the government to revamp the said scheme. Whilst the people enjoy the benefits of the health coverage, Thailand’s healthcare expenditure has been steadily increasing for the past years. According to the latest data by the world bank, Thailand’s health expenditure in 2018 takes up nearly 3.8% of the country’s GDP. This has caused questions on the sustainability of the country’s healthcare system in the long run, as the pressures brought by increasing ageing population and diminishing working force have become a factor to the steadily increasing government expenditures. As such, it should be noted that the development of digital health infrastructures in Thailand would require large capital and an increased labor force if it wishes to maintain the stability of its current healthcare system. The government would now have to look into sustainability measures, as the implementation of telemedicine and other digital innovations might get wasted if they cannot be maintained. by Vann Villegas

Sustainability measures will help maintain the implementation of telemedicine in Thailand




Increased healthcare spending will impact Taiwan’s pharma industry

Taiwan’s healthcare financing to pose risks for drugmakers Reimbursement prices tend to be lower due to the government’s single-payer status.


espite the wide recognition that Taiwan’s healthcare system receives with its innovations, novel pharmaceutical products are expected to see constraints to their growth prospects in the near future. This has been mainly due to the country’s singlepayer healthcare financing system with the National Health Insurance (NHI). Taiwan has an exceptional health insurance scheme, with NHI being deemed a high performing healthcare system by regional standards. Enrolment in the NHI system is compulsory for all local citizens and the program offers a comprehensive set of services, including outpatient visits, hospitalisation, Western and Chinese medication, and dental treatment. TThe main reason behind NHI’s high performance is the ability of the government to set and regulate fees and to impose a global budget system that caps total NHI expenditure. At the same time, NHI’s IT-driven administrative system provides high administrative efficiency at a low cost, becoming another important factor in the financing system’s performance. The latest data from Fitch Solutions show that the healthcare financing system will be the main driver of the country’s healthcare expenditures in the next decade. That said, Taiwan also aims to rein in healthcare costs. “Whilst the total insurance premium rate is already 24


Novel pharmaceuticals in Taiwan to see constraints to their growth due to NHI

a low 4.69% of the insured’s wages, it is shared between the employee, employer, and government. Low-income households are exempted from paying premiums, and also receive healthcare for free,” Fitch Solutions stated. However, the report also pointed out that there are pitfalls with the country’s healthcare system, despite being largely affordable. Taiwan has only 2.3 physicians per 1,000 population and only 7.1 nurses and midwives per 1,000 population, which places it as having one of the lowest healthcare workers in the developed countries, alongside other Asian countries such as Singapore and South Korea. Meanwhile, the increasing health insurance premiums has also become a hot topic in the country. The Fitch Solutions report stated that as of the start of 2021, the government raised premiums from 4.69% to 5.17% and supplemental premiums from 1.91% to 2.11%. “Even with the increase, the NHI administration projects the reserve fund will be exhausted by 2023,” the agency forecasts. With these projections, financial difficulties brought by the increased healthcare spending will impact pharma manufacturers and the country’s spending. The impact on drug prices, especially for new and innovative medicines, are another aspect of the NHI financing system that needs to be looked into.

COUNTRY REPORT: TAIWAN According to Fitch Solutions, reimbursement prices tend to be much lower in Taiwan than in OECD countries because of the government’s single-payer status, and the hospitals typically negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies for discounts. This discourages new products in the country. At the same time, new drugs tend to be launched in Taiwan much later than certain other markets due to the impact of low reimbursements. Threats to NHI financing system The threats expected to be brought to pharmaceutical manufacturers by the financing system are compounded by another problem. Whilst the NHI financing system of Taiwan remains significantly better than other countries, it is not without risks and sustainability issues. Currently, the country is undergoing a demographic shift with residents living longer and having fewer children. According to the report from Fitch Solutions, the anticipated rise in the dependency ratio from 35% in 2015 to 54% by 2030 will result in a significant alteration of the scheme’s budget position. “Government funding, while substantial, will remain contingent on the country’s economic performance. Through to 2024, we expect public health expenditure to grow at a CAGR of 5.1% in local currency terms and 5.6% in US dollar terms, compared to 4.6% and 5.1% expected for private spending respectively.” The research agency also noted that the life expectancy in Taiwan continues to rise after reaching a high of 80.9 years in 2019. At the same time, the National Development Council (NDC) reported that fertility rates declined from 2.7 births per woman in 1977 to 1.1 births in 2017. Between 2000 and February 2021, the percentage of the population over 65 nearly doubled from just under 9% to 16% whilst the proportion of 0-14 year olds nearly halved from 21% to 12.5%. This will result in an ageing yet shrinking population that will pose significant financial challenges to the NHI in the near future, as premium contributions are the primary source of funding for the NHI. “Firstly, the number of working age people who can pay NHI premiums will decrease. Secondly, an ageing population typically leads to higher costs of care and an increase in healthcare utilisation. In 2015, medical expenses for those over 65 were already three times more than the national average due to chronic diseases and treatments for cancer,” according to Fitch Solutions. They also noted that a mandate to keep government debt at 40% of GDP further constrains the ability of the government to substantially increase allocations to the NHI Administration in the long term. “Consequently, public health expenditure is not expected to significantly increase its share of total spending on health over the forecasted period. To address the demand for novel treatments whilst balancing costs, we believe Taiwan will shift part of the financing burden onto patients,” it said. Increased reliance to digital health With such issues looming, the rising practice of digital

The ageing yet shrinking population of Taiwan poses financial challenges to the NHI

health may strengthen healthcare operations in Taiwan. In December 2020, President Tsai Ing-wen pledged to push ahead with the transformation of Taiwan’s healthcare sector as the country strives to sharpen its competitive edge internationally, during a speech at the opening ceremony of the Healthcare+ Expo Taiwan 2020 in Taipei. In the speech, Tsai set forth two objectives, of which one is the digital transformation of Taiwan’s healthcare industry, made ever more pressing by the coronavirus pandemic. “Incorporating the artificial internet of things, 5G, cloud computing, and other key technologies are pivotal in making Taiwan a hub for digital health,” she said. The other objective is to better control healthcarerelated materials, with the country working to guarantee a sufficient supply of testing technology, medical equipment, active pharmaceutical ingredients and vaccines – through the strategic deployment of available resources and policy incentives – to prepare for health crises to come. With President Tsai’s announcement, as well as the current state of Taiwan’s healthcare system, it is to be expected that digital health partnerships will increase in frequency in the future. Fitch Solutions also mentioned that digital health will also transform healthcare in Taiwan by delivering a better patient experience whilst lowering costs. “This trend is attracting the growing attention of firms operating at the intersection of technology and medical science. Taiwan will utilise its competitive advantages in information technology and medicine to deliver better care and enhance the health of the overall population,” it said. They also emphasised that data is becoming increasingly important in the treatment paradigm, especially in the pharmaceutical side. “Text mining and big data analytics play a fundamental role in processing data at an aggregate level to understand patterns of usage to make medicines more effective and as such, we believe that pharmaceutical companies will progressively invest in internet and mobile-based technologies in Taiwan,” the report stated.

Taiwan Healthcare Spending Projections, 2018-2029

Source: Fitch Solutions




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body imaging. RadLink’s advanced IT workflow management system supports multi-site worklist and reporting integration to allow maximum productivity by providing greater workflow efficiency. It also partners with world-renowned diagnostic equipment manufacturers to launch cutting-edge and advanced diagnostic technology, such as the care can go hand-in-hand. RadLink’s diagnostic imaging services include Vizamyl scan, a breakthrough making it possible X-ray, Ultrasound, Mammography, Fluoroscopy, for early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease, cementing RadLink as a leader in Singapore’s Bone Mineral Densitometry, Magnetic radiopharmaceutical Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Computed Tomography (CT) scans. RadLink also provides and molecular imaging sector. molecular imaging services such as Positron If you would like to Emission Tomography (PET) and radionuclide know more information, therapy for oncology and bone diseases. The please visit our website team of radiologists at RadLink are boardat certified, fellowship-trained in subspecialties or contact us at including experts in oncology, neuroradiology, HEALTHCARE ASIA 27 breast radiology, musculoskeletal women, and +65 8636 0808.


With the advent of digital health, patients would rather track their health at home than visit a doc­tor

Healthcare consumerisation in the rise of digital health The paradigm slowly gained traction in recent years, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.


he ever-changing landscape of healthcare bears witness to various advancements in the technological capabilities of providers. In recent years, the rise of digital health has been visible and the practice of telemedicine has started to gain traction. This is even compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, where most patients cannot go to hospitals and are therefore being treated at their homes through the use of devices. Telemedicine has become a norm and more patients are also taking control of their health. Intending to deliver efficient services to patients and sustainability, healthcare providers are riding on this trend, and the patient’s role shifts towards more of a consumer as they demand convenience and ease whilst accessing healthcare services. However, providers would still have to take huge steps in ensuring a patient-focused experience without sacrificing the quality of services. At the same time, it is worth looking into the paradigm shift that is changing the ways for the industry. 28


In healthcare consumerisation, patients demand more control and access to personalised and convenient healthcare services

A disruptive force Healthcare consumerisation is a paradigm wherein patients demand more control and access to personalised and convenient healthcare services, and where organisations have become compelled to adopt strategies that emphasise care on patient’s terms. This trend is brought upon by market trends and recent public health issues, such as increased access, consumer empowerment, and the rising cost of healthcare, which are effects of technological innovations and which lead patients to seek cost-effective and quick solutions whilst still ensuring quality. For providers, these trends signify the need to expand beyond traditional services and into new care delivery approaches enabled by new virtual care technologies, since the COVID-19 pandemic upended in-person services. Whilst the healthcare industry struggles to provide services in the wake of an overwhelmed system, patients are also less willing to tolerate delays and inefficiencies in healthcare services. Additionally,

there is a growing concern that patients’ desire for convenient services may have an outsized impact on their decision-making when seeking care. As such, non-traditional sectors such as retail, technology, and consumer packaged goods aim to address these needs by including health and wellness initiatives into their products and services. A report by UBS Investment Bank also estimates the global addressable market for consumerisation of healthcare to be approximately $600b in 2019 and is expected to increase at a 5.5% compounded annual growth rate through 2025. Moreover, a 2018 J. Walter Thompson Intelligence APAC study documented a new turning point for the said paradigm. The study looked into how the latest digital technologies are giving people more knowledge and control of their own health, whilst the scope of personal healthcare itself is expanding beyond the clinics and hospitals to increasingly include services to improve overall well-being. It has also identified consumer trends and opportunities for brands, both in the traditional health care sector—hospitals, clinics, insurers, pharmaceuticals— and its expanding ecosystem, made up of players in areas such as technology, food, beauty, hospitality, retail, the workplace, and medical tourism. “We are seeing patients acting more and more like consumers— moving from a passive to a more active stance. In tandem, and perhaps in response, the medical world is borrowing from the lifestyle sectors,” Chen May Yee, APAC director of The Innovation Group, and the author of the report said. “New players, particularly tech companies, are starting to disrupt healthcare in the same way they did with retail and logistics: by exploiting inefficiencies.” With data from around 2,500 consumers in the Asia Pacific, the study revealed how local startups and tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent disrupted the healthcare sector across the Asia Pacific in

ANALYSIS: HEALTHCARE CONSUMERISATION “Taboo” topics, such as mental and sexual health, are now more widely talked about thanks to health services apps and social media

Consumerisation of healthcare model

Source: UBS Investment Bank

three main ways. For instance, two-thirds of consumers in the study said they would go to a doctor more often if there were not such long wait times. The study provided China’s largest online health platform Ping An Good Doctor as an example, wherein it is shortening wait times by connecting patients with a nationwide network of thousands of hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies through its mobile platform. Ping An Good Doctor has also formed a joint venture with Grab back then to improve access to online medical appointments and medicine delivery. Meanwhile, Tencent Doctorwork offers diagnostic services and health trackers on its WeChat app and directs patients to one of its offline clinics for treatment. It has also teamed up with Shanghai-based Trusted Doctors to provide what it is calling the largest private medical care network in China, comprising 33 clinics in eight cities. The study also revealed that “taboo” topics, such as mental and sexual health, are now more widely talked about, thanks to apps and social media. This was after the fact that around half of the respondents said they would go to doctors if it were not for the stigma they face with check-ups. Moreover, data from the study showed that 76% of the respondents believe that a health app or website could help them be healthier, with 64% saying that they would rather track their

health at home than visit a doctor. At the same time, 63% of the respondents said they get excited when they can view health data on their apps. Lastly, the study showed a slate of startups are using technology to try to solve some of the pain points of traditional insurance, from the hassle of submitting claims to better compliance with wellness programs that can ward off those claims to begin with. This may be due to the fact that only 51% of consumers in the study trust government health insurance, and only 46% trust private insurance to help them stay healthy. Ultimately, the study went to show how health and wellness offerings are being embedded in the services of lifestyle industries due to the inefficiencies of the traditional healthcare sector.

Identifying risks As the consumerisation of healthcare and the rise of digital health put the power in the hands of the patients, the risk of cutting out traditional intermediaries through new direct-to-consumer health and wellness businesses becomes apparent. At the same time, challenges in providing valuebased care appear together with the greater demand for personalised and individualised services. As mentioned, many patients are now reluctant to wait weeks for an appointment due to the advent of smartphones. They can now simply do a quick search for symptoms and provide a theoretical diagnosis. This is especially dangerous as their real conditions might not get treated or only get worse due to self-diagnosis. The paradigm has also led to the popularity of retail clinics, where patients can easily access healthcare services at their own time. A research by Future Market Insights revealed that by the end of 2028, the global retail clinics market is expected to surpass $8b. Whilst convenient and quick, retail clinics may compromise patient’s health due to too many one-off visits as their healthcare provider might not understand their medical history. Moreover, with the technology enabling transparency in procedure costs, patients are treating care as a commodity and are looking for ways to minimise their expenses as compared to

Health organisations are adopting strategies that emphasise care on patients’ terms



ANALYSIS: HEALTHCARE CONSUMERISATION task to listen and to incorporate patient’s perspectives in every offering as they are slowly gaining power in the medical services that they seek.

before, where hospitals are unable to provide them with accurate costs, leaving many stuck with their options. With the gradual upward turn of the cost of care, customers are now cautious with what they are paying for. Although initially commendable, the treatment of healthcare as a consumable can also lead to delaying—or just skipping altogether—medical care. The rise of digital healthcare services also poses risks for data privacy and patient confidentiality. Health records and information exchanges run the risk of getting breached if security from such providers is not ensured. Data breaches have severe impacts on both patients and providers. In 2019, Singapore made global headlines when confidential data of about 14,000 HIV patients were leaked, which prompted the government to launch Healthcare Cloud, a consolidated cloud computing platform that supports over 50,000 healthcare workers across the state. Accommodating evolving needs of patients As healthcare services evolve to something more akin to a commodity, the rise of digital health would also need to be maximised to be on the better end of the scale. Businesses that have ridden on the paradigm shift have gained more experiences and satisfied patients. Digital health has accelerated many innovations, including athome visits, telemedicine practices, digital tools for remote monitoring, and various healthcare provider platforms to facilitate medical information transfer. 30


The rise of digital healthcare services poses risks for data privacy and patient confidentiality

For instance, the Malaysian Ministry of Health (KKM) has implemented initiatives such as the roll-out and upgrade of the Hospital Integrated System, and the cloud-enabled system known as the Integrated Primary Care System, used for daily operations and real-time data management for primary healthcare at KKM facilities in the country. Digital innovations also come with challenges that must be taken seriously by country leaders. Healthcare providers can also do some actions to ensure an experience-driven healthcare program for patients. Firstly, seek feedback from healthcare consumers to gauge their experience, and enhance it to better deliver services. Since they now have more access to information regarding their health and the services, they would want to know the latest information regarding these matters and to provide inputs. Healthcare providers have the

Drivers to go for annual checkup

Source: The Well Economy: APAC Edition

Looking into design thinking and user journey With the consumerisation of healthcare placing the focus on patients, questions on the long-term role of healthcare professionals are starting to pop in. Currently, many healthcare workers are deployed for teleconsultations and other telemedicine practices. Physicians are critical agents in the design of healthcare journeys and the road to self-served medicine. They can pave the way for streamlining the new ways of providing healthcare services. Meanwhile, most healthcare marketers have a complete grasp of healthcare professionals, but not of the social context of healthcare consumers. This opens doors for other market players to imbibe understanding and provide perspectives in understanding how consumers move in the realm of healthcare services. The role of medical practitioners would not be enough to keep consumers at bay. Insights and frameworks from other industries applied to health (retail, manufacturing, agriculture, auto, food industry, etc.) would be essential as the paradigm is likely to stay in the long run.


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Find out who won at this year’s Healthcare Asia Awards and Healthcare Asia Pharma Awards


he COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably created a huge challenge for all, most especially for the healthcare industry. From the fear of contamination to lack of manpower and available spaces for patients, the crisis has debilitated the industry’s foundations and pushed many of their boundaries to their limits. Yet, despite the obstacles, there have been a number of remarkable hospitals, healthcare companies, and pharmaceutical firms that have risen to the challenge by innovating and reinventing initiatives. They made a positive difference, not just in the lives of their patients, but also in the people who tirelessly work for and stand with them. In recognition of the companies that have made significant strides in these areas, Healthcare Asia has introduced and honoured these enterprises through a virtual awards presentation that started last 15 April and face-to-face presentations at Conrad Centennial Singapore on 27 May.

The winning companies were also accompanied by interviews as they shared their thoughts about winning the prestigious awards programme. This year’s nominations were chosen by an elite panel of judges consisting of Chris Hardesty, Director, Healthcare & Life Sciences Practice at KPMG; Partha Basumatary, Director, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Strategy Lead at EY - Parthenon; Dr. Stephanie Allen, Global Healthcare Leader at Deloitte; and Damien Duhamel, Cofounder and Managing Partner at YCP Solidiance. Healthcare Asia Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Tim Charlton gives his warm congratulations to this year’s awardees. “The winners prove how challenges can serve as springboards that spur innovation and growth. We commend their contribution in driving the industry forward, and recognise their hard work and commitment to serving the public.”

Healthcare Asia Awards 2021 winners

Hong Kong Baptist Hospital COVID Management Initiative of the Year - Hong Kong Hospital of the Year - Hong Kong

Alexandra Hospital Patient Care Initiative of the Year - Singapore

Aster Al Raffah Hospital COVID Management Initiative of the Year - Oman Malabar Institute of Medical Sciences Ltd, (Aster MIMS), Calicut Hospital of the Year - India Aster RV Hospital, Bangalore, India COVID Management Initiative of the Year - India Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center Health Promotion Initiative of the Year - Philippines ICT Initiative of the Year - Philippines Bangkok Rayong Hospital Co. Ltd. COVID Management Initiative of the Year - Thailand Employee Engagement of the Year - Thailand Bangkok Hospital Pattaya Hospital of the Year - Thailand Bumrungrad International Hospital Diagnostics Provider of the Year - Thailand Chang Bing Show Chwan Memorial Hospital Clinical Service Initiative of the Year - Taiwan Hospital of the Year - Taiwan Femto Research Group Service Innovation of the Year - Thailand Fullerton Health Primary Care Provider of the Year - Singapore Global Doctors Hospital Secondary Hospital of the Year - Malaysia Guam Memorial Hospital Authority Hospital of the Year - Guam COVID Management Initiative of the Year - Guam HealthHub Br of Al Futtaim Healthcare Corporate Social Responsibility of the Year - United Arab Emirates Secondary Hospital of the Year - United Arab Emirates COVID Management Initiative of the Year - United Arab Emirates 32


Jehangir Hospital Corporate Social Responsibility of the Year - India Kim Dental Clinical Service Initiative of the Year - Vietnam Customer Service Initiative of the Year - Vietnam KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital Marketing Initiative of the Year - Malaysia Mentcouch International Psychology Centre Service Innovation of the Year - Malaysia NICVD Chest Pain Units Service Innovation of the Year - Pakistan National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases Clinical Service Initiative of the Year - Pakistan National Cardiovascular Center Harapan Kita Facilities Improvement Initiative of the Year - Indonesia Tertiary Hospital of the Year - Indonesia National Kidney and Transplant Institute Service Innovation of the Year - Philippines Specialty Hospital of the Year - Philippines OasisEye Specialists Specialty Clinic of the Year - Malaysia PT Pertamina Bina Medika IHC COVID Management Initiative of the Year - Indonesia Hospital of the Year - Indonesia Qualitas Medical Group Sdn Bhd COVID Management Initiative of the Year - Malaysia Primary Care Provider of the Year - Malaysia RadLink Asia Pte Ltd Diagnostic Provider of the Year - Singapore Reem Hospital Home-care Initiative of the Year - United Arab Emirates Specialty Hospital of the Year - United Arab Emirates Regency Specialist Hospital Corporate Social Responsibility of the Year - Malaysia

Right Health Primary Care Provider of the Year - United Arab Emirates Sabar Healthcare Services Patient Care Initiative of the Year - Israel Service Innovation of the Year - Israel Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre Facilities Improvement Initiative of the Year - Malaysia St. Luke’s Medical Center - Global City Patient Safety Initiative of the Year - Philippines Facilities Improvement Initiative of the Year - Philippines

Guam Memorial Hospital Authority

Alexandra Hospital

Suburban Diagnostics Service Delivery Innovation Initiative of the Year - India Sunway Medical Centre Velocity Health Promotion Initiative of the Year - Malaysia ICT Initiative of the Year - Malaysia Smart Hospital Initiative of the Year - Malaysia The Medical City COVID Management Initiative of the Year - Philippines The Medical City South Luzon Service Delivery Innovation Initiative of the Year - Philippines Employee Engagement of the Year - Philippines

Hong Kong Baptist Hospital

UMP Healthcare China Limited Primary Care Provider of the Year - China Artirat Charukitpipat, Bumrungrad International Hospital CEO of the Year

Healthcare Asia Pharma Awards 2021 winners Abbott Healthcare Pvt. Ltd Hospital Partnership of the Year - India

Bristol-Myers Squibb Marketing & Communications Initiative of the Year - Japan

Global Doctors Hospital

Cipla Limited Marketing & Communications Initiative of the Year - India Himont Pharmaceuticals Packaging Design of the Year - Pakistan Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited Digital Innovation of the Year - Japan Most Differentiated Service of the Year - Japan Bumrungrad International Hospital

Chang Bing Show Chwan Memorial Hospital

Femto Research Group

HealthHub Br of Al Futtaim Healthcare

Aster RV Hospital, Bangalore, India

Artirat Charukitpipat , Bumrungrad International Hospital HEALTHCARE ASIA



Jehangir Hospital

Aster MIMS

National Kidney and Transplant Institute

KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital

National Cardiovascular Center Harapan Kita

OasisEye Specialists

PT Pertamina Bina Medika IHC

Regency Specialist Hospital

RadLink Asia Pte Ltd

The Medical City South Luzon

The Medical City

UMP Healthcare China Limited

Fullerton Health

Bangkok Hospital Pattaya

Bristol Myers Squibb


Reem Hospital

Sunway Medical Centre Velocity

Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre


Mentcouch International Psychology Centre

Qualitas Medical Group Sdn Bhd

National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD)

Exablate Neuro

Da Vinci

Cancer Treatment

New Way to Treat the Essential Tremor

Perform Operations through a few small incisions

Precision Medicine Immunotherapy

Chang Bing Show Chwan International Medical Center



As R&D, we scanned infertility couples’ genomes with our Healthcare Asia awarded noninvasive p53Microbiome© innovations, using *DBS or DSS. *[DBS: Dried Blood Spots; DSS: Dried Saliva Spots]

Our finding is so exciting. Pathogenic microbiomes (DNA/RNA/Genomes) are inserted and hidden in infertile genomes. Yes, just the same look as those found in human cancer genomes. It should

DBS&DSS p53Microbiome© Never-before-existing diagnostic innovation for infertile genomes Pain, hopelessness, fear, shame, depression, and guilty are obsessed among women facing fertility challenges, whereas embarrassment seems to belong to infertile men. *Primary or **secondary infertile, or ***subfertile couple with no infertile genetic background, perfect health profile and lifestyle, no hormonal problem, under or a bit over reproductive age, such infertility may be caused by chronic infections hidden in the genomes, partially if not all, as an unexplained infertility cause. [*no pregnancy after 1 year of having unprotect sexual intercourse, **get pregnant at least once, but now are unable, *** can conceive naturally, but takes longer than average.].

These hidden infections are associated with various infertility phenotypes, including *IVF/ICSI failures. Identification of exact asymptomatic infectious pathogens involving infertility are difficult and invasive. *[IVF/ICSI: in vitro fertilization (IVF) with or without intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)].

mean that the infertile couples, in addition to infertility, they are also at risk to develop cancer. Therefore, precise elimination of the observed infectious species could likely improve the IVF/ICSI outcome and also reduce the risk of cancer.

The association between infection and infertility has been long known. However, infertility is a multi-factorial clinical condition. An infertile couple needs to seek medical treatment covering all clinical factors. For example, a testimonial mother (Figure 1) had ovulation problem and silence infections. When the infections were eliminated, she was immediately pregnant from the subsequence IVF cycle after the high-dose ovulation-stimulating drugs treatment.

Example: Table 1. Microbiome infections hidden in an

infertile couple’s genomes (only a few species are chosen for examples)

Figure 1. A testimonial mother: after 10 years of infertility treatment with a few IVF cycles (always with high-dose ovulation-stimulating drugs), she was finally pregnant and got a healthy son when she was at 46 years old. Prior to this final positive IVF, accidentally, she was fortunately treated for elimination of parasitic and fungal infections.

Now, there is not any method to identify the asymptomatic infections on infertility. Femto Lab© has just successfully developed a reliable never-before-existing diagnostic innovation to identify infections in human infertile genomes. HEALTHCARE ASIA



Aster RV Hospital Team is committed to providing you top-notch care with our best in class facilities in every speciality, from paediatrics to geriatrics.

MULTI-SUPERSPECIALITY CARE • Neurosciences • Cardiac Sciences • Critical Care • Emergency Care • Endocrinology • ENT • Gastro Sciences • General Medicine • Integrated Liver Care • Nephrology & Urology Sciences • Obstetrics and Gynaecology • Orthopaedic and Joints • Paediatrics

STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY Aster RV Hospital at Bangalore. CA-37, 24th Main Rd, ITI Layout, 1st Phase, JP Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560078.

Follow Aster Bangalore on :



• 3 Tesla MRI • Hybrid Biplane Cath Lab • Intraoperative MRI • 24/7 Paediatrics ICU

222 Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong

Tel : (852) 2339 8888





The noblest of profession spreading joy & care deserves heart felt applause. Since our inception in 1946, we at Jehangir Hospital, have been at the forefront of the healthcare services. Today, we express our gratitude towards the prosperous city of Pune and the patrons who have been part of our journey for 75 illustrious years.

Thank you all for being part of our legacy. Thank you for making Jehangir Hospital a landmark in Pune, and set ting the benchmarks for medical excellence. For appointment, call: 020-6681 9966 / 67 / 68



32, Sassoon Road, Pune - 411001, India

For Emergency, Dial: 888 888 1066

Zero Fluoroscopy safe for unborn child HEALTHCARE ASIA








PREMIUM S$468.00

S$500.76 (incl. GST) Clinical Measurements & Physical Examination • Examination of Heart, Lungs and Abdomen • Neurological and Musculo skeletal Examination • Height and Weight Management • Body Mass Index (BMI) & Body Fat Analysis • Visual Acuity & Colour Blindness Test • Blood Pressure Reading • Resting Electrocardiogram (ECG)



Relax in a comfortable pod, tted with a 30-inch wide seat, adjustable table, and leg rest



Request for assistance from our attentive staa without leaving your seat



Tests are conducted in a single location by experienced doctors and nurses


Personal locker to store your belongings during your screening


Leverage our free Wi-Fi and available USB ports to stay connected


Light snacks will be served to you once you have completed your fast

Blood, Urine & Stool Investigations • Lipid (Cholesterol) Screen • Hepatitis A & B Screen • Liver Screen • Cardiac Risk Screen (WrCRP) • Kidney Screen • Bone & Joint Screen • Urinalysis (FEME) • Stool Screen • Diabetes Screen • Thyroid Scren • Haematology (Blood Count) • Tumour Markers (Liver, Colon, Prostate (M), Ovaries (F)) • Pap Smear (F)




S$714.76 (incl. GST)

S$950.16 (incl. GST)

S$1,806.16 (incl. GST)




Includes all tests in Premium and the following additional tests: Tonometry (Eye Pressure) Urinalysis • Urine Microalbumin/ Creatinine

Tonometry (Eye Pressure) Urinalysis • Urine Microalbumin/ Creatinine

Tonometry (Eye Pressure) Urinalysis • Urine Microalbumin/ Creatinine

Choice of 1 Test: • Stress ECG (Treadmill) • Ultrasound Abdomen • Ultrasound Kidney, Ureters & Bladder • Ultrasound Thyroid • Ultrasound Prostate (M) • Ultrasound Pelvis (F) • Ultrasound Breast (F) • Mammogram (F)**

Spirometry (Lungs)

Spirometry (Lungs)

Choice of 2 Tests: • Stress ECG (Treadmill) • Ultrasound Abdomen • Ultrasound Kidney, Ureters & Bladder • Ultrasound Thyroid • Ultrasound Prostate (M) • Ultrasound Pelvis (F) • Ultrasound Breast (F) • Mammogram (F)**

Choice of 2 Tests: • Stress ECG (Treadmill) • Ultrasound Abdomen • Ultrasound Kidney, Ureters & Bladder • Ultrasound Thyroid • Ultrasound Prostate (M) • Ultrasound Pelvis (F) • Ultrasound Breast (F) • Mammogram (F)** Auto-Immune Disease Screen: • Anti Nuclear Antibody Additional Hepatitis Screen: • Hepatitis C Antibody Additional Tumour Markers Screen: • CA 19-9 (Pancreas/ Stomach) • EBV EA IgA (Nose) • CA15-3 (Breast) (F)

Medical Report and Review*

* Only 1 medical review is included. Consultation charges apply for further reviews ** Only available at Ngee Ann City *** To be completed at RadLink

Scan the QR code to book your appointment or contact us at / +65 6333 3636 (option 3)

Fullerton Health @ Ngee Ann City 391B Orchard Road, #25-01 Ngee Ann City Tower B Singapore 238874

Choice of 1 Test: • Heart Scan (CT Cardiac Calcium Score)*** • Liver Scan (MR Elastography with fat quantiication)*** • Osteoporosis Screening (BMD + Vitamin D2/D3)***

Fullerton Health @ Ngee Ann City 391B Orchard Road, #26-02 Ngee Ann City Tower B Singapore 238874

Fullerton Health @ Ocean Financial Centre 10 Collyer Quay, #03-08 Ocean Financial Centre Singapore 049315





Welcome to Regency Stroke Centre of Excellence Regency Specialist Hospital is the first private hospital in Johor to be equipped with a comprehensive stroke centre that provides 24 hours' service for stroke patient. At present, 50% of our acute stroke patient whom received mechanical thrombectomy has achieved favourable functional recovery and are non-dependent in their activity of daily living.




May 2021


+6012 - 736 7008 |







THOMAS FISCHER Angels Project Lead SC-MY-00846, SEPT 2020




Our hospital is among 5 hospitals in Malaysia that has been awarded as Outstanding Stroke Care Health Facility by the World Stroke Organisation during the Virtual Malaysian Stroke Conference 2020. It is our aspiration to be a regional stroke hub and leading hospital to fight stroke and improve outcome in all individuals survived from this debilitating disease.

We are here to serve you!



Hands That Treat Hearts That Heal HEALTHCARE ASIA



Best of the best: Here are the winners at this year’s HCA Medtech Awards 2021


owhere has medical technology created a tremendous impact in recent times than today, when diagnosing, monitoring, and treating the Coronavirus has been an outstanding priority amongst many countries that are continuously being ravaged by the pandemic. It’s a battle that hasn’t been completely won yet, but will eventually be achieved. Thanks to innovative minds that create products and initiatives in the field of medical technology, we are now a step closer to winning the war against the COVID-19 virus for good. Healthcare Asia Medtech Awards recognised the companies that have made significant innovations, technologies, and outstanding products or enterprises in the field of medical technology. The winners were introduced and honoured through a virtual awards presentation, which was held from 2 to 7 June. This year’s nominations were judged by an expert panel that included Chris Hardesty, Director, Healthcare & Life Sciences Practice at KPMG; Partha Basumatary, Director, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Strategy Lead at EY - Parthenon; Dr. Stephanie Allen, Global Healthcare Leader at Deloitte; and Damien Duhamel, Co-founder and Managing Partner at YCP Solidiance.

Stash PH Pinas Inc. Enabling Hospitals Hospital Partnership of the Year - Philippines UpperMed Pte. Ltd. Remote Management Initiative of the Year - Singapore Zimmer Biomet Orthopaedic Product Innovation of the Year - Singapore

Here are the winners this year:

HCA Medtech Awards 2021 winners Align Technology Digital Innovation of the Year - Singapore Boston Scientific Asia Pacific Training Initiative of the Year - Singapore CooperVision Asia Pacific Patient Advocacy Program of the Year - Singapore

Align Technology

Global Medical Technologies Manila Inc. COVID Management Initiative of the Year - Philippines Guangdong Launca Medical Device Technology Co., Ltd Dentistry Solution Initiative of the Year - China Digital Innovation of the Year - China Guardant Health AMEA Oncology Product Innovation of the Year - Singapore INEX Innovate COVID Management Initiative of the Year - Singapore Korea Health Industry Development Institute Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year - Korea Oliver Healthcare Packaging Packaging Design of the Year - Singapore Priority Pulse Private Limited Digital Innovation of the Year - India QIAGEN Business Services (Manila), Inc. Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year - Philippines SOPHiA GENETICS Hospital Partnership of the Year - Australia Oncology Product Innovation of the Year - Australia 42


Oliver Healthcare Packaging

Boston Scientific Asia Pacific

Global Medical Technologies Manila Inc.

CooperVision Asia Pacific

INEX Innovate

Korea Health Industry Development Institute


Guardant Health AMEA





Where others see data,

we see answers. visit to discover our solutions

For Research Use Only. Not for Use in Diagnostic Procedures © SOPHiA GENETICS 2021 - PM_RUO_F.1.1.5_r1en



Moving You Forward.™ We seamlessly transform the patient experience through our innovative products and suite of integrated digital and robotic technologies that leverage data, data analytics and artificial intelligence. ©2021 Zimmer Biomet

Zimmer Biomet Moving You Forward-Corporate Ads-May 2021-v7.indd 1



6/6/21 9:21 PM





Has misinformation become a public health issue in Singapore?


ver the past 12 months, we have come up against two public health crises. The first, a global pandemic. The second, misinformation that has run rampant in Singapore of late, amid the rise of COVID-19 cases and several clusters that have recently come to light. Think this sounds overdramatic? Just a few weeks ago, a group of 12 doctors in Singapore penned an open letter urging parents with children aged between 11 and 15 to rethink their need for vaccination. They highlighted concerns of children receiving mRNA COVID-19 vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech and its potential long term side effects. While 11 out of 12 of these doctors have since retracted the statement and Singapore’s expert committee on COVID-19 vaccination have clarified that the vaccine is safe for this age group, the facts, it would appear, have not changed people’s opinions. A sizable number of Singaporeans remain sceptical of the benefits of getting vaccinated, despite the government’s push for half of the population to be fully vaccinated by this August. Fake news or misinformation is not a new trend. For years, the media has been hounding Big Tech to take more responsibility for staunching the spread of misinformation on social platforms. Now, we are witnessing the dangerous consequences of it as we deal with the pandemic and the socalled ‘infodemic’. The fight against misinformation has gone up a notch. How can we defend ourselves? There is currently no legislation or technology that can stop misinformation before it spreads. But there are ways to combat misinformation, and they require input from all of us. We can no longer sit back and put the onus of sole responsibility on policymakers and industry leaders. Instead, we need to look at the role that we play in disseminating misinformation and how we can arm ourselves with the tools to protect ourselves and others around us. Just as we take responsibility to maintain our health and wellbeing when it comes to smoking, drug abuse, or obesity, we need to start taking more responsibility for the impact of misinformation on our health and the health of others. Your role in identifying misinformation Let us consider what misinformation or fake news is and what it does. Misinformation is the manipulation of information, of data. It corrupts the facts we use to understand the world around us. It exacerbates social divides and hinders our ability to make the best decisions for ourselves, our families, our businesses, and our communities. We need to start thinking about how we can apply the same skills that help people understand and use data effectively to the issues of misinformation. Individuals should interrogate 48


CHONG YANG CHAN Managing Director, Qlik ASEAN

information in the same way they review data when at work. The key is working directly with individuals, businesses, and the wider community to help restore the integrity of information. Not everyone needs to become a data scientist; we just need to empower them to understand data in context. This starts by recognising the need to advance data literacy at all levels, from the classroom through early childhood education to the workplace by equipping employees with the right tools and training programs to read, analyse and communicate with data to form accurate, meaningful, and actionable insights. With more practice comes more accurate data reporting and more confidence in identifying misinformation and fake news. Encouragingly, research shows that there is a desire to upskill their data skills to make a positive difference. Closer to home, 4 in 5 Singaporean employees (82 per cent) are willing to invest more time and energy in improving their data skills to make better decisions. We need to leverage this and provide them access to tools that helps them to question and challenge the information they are given, seek the truth behind a story, and support others when misinformation takes hold. From a community perspective, we are no longer suffering from having a “baseline reality”. We are operating in competing realities that have created deep rifts in global communities. The Chinese medical company, Sinovac, for example, has been subject to several misleading narratives across online media and social channels regarding the efficacy and safety of its COVID-19 vaccine shot. In the open letter example in Singapore mentioned earlier, the group of 12 doctors promoted the Sinovac vaccine for everyone, including children, citing that it could protect against B1617 variants. But in other accounts, scattered reports in the media sent countries across the world into a tailspin. A handful of unsubstantiated reports alleging that the Sinovac vaccine led to the death of a participant in a local trial that disrupted the global vaccine rollout; some paused, some continued as before, and others ceased using it altogether. Misinformation and disinformation weaken the bonds we build in our communities, so its high time we start making sense of and communicating complex information to help restore these bonds. Become information empowered If there is one thing to take away from this, it is that the ability to silence misinformation is about personal empowerment. Businesses and the government need to set an example by giving people, and the communities that they live in, the tools so that they can see misinformation and know how to respond; to challenge such instances in a positive and constructive way. In the age of an infodemic, our health depends on it.

Bristol Myers Squibb Wins at Healthcare Asia Pharma Awards 2021 for major revamp of its Hemapedia website for hematologists Bristol Myers Squibb K.K. won the Marketing & Communications Initiative of the Year – Japan award at the Healthcare Asia Pharma Awards 2021. Bristol Myers Squibb received the award

Charlton, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief

appropriate use of our drugs. The new

information website for hematologists

judges were impressed by Bristol Myers

information on BMS and Celgene blood

for its major revamp of Hemapedia, an

( Implemented as part of a company-wide digital

transformation exercise and completed

this February, the project was evaluated

of Healthcare Asia magazine. “Our

Squibb’s ability to combine usability with high-level scientific content throughout the omnichannel tool.”

highly against the three criteria: “Unique-

In the field of hematology, where new

Impact” and “Dynamism”.

recent years and there are a wide variety

ness & Innovation”, “Effectiveness &

“The Hemapedia website is a

ground-breaking initiative that ensures highly effective communication and

community education around hematological healthcare in Japan,” said Tim

treatments have been developed in

of drugs to choose from, Hemapedia will provide hematologists with a new

Hemapedia provides one-stop access to cancer products used to treat conditions such as multiple myeloma, chronic myeloma leukemia, and malignant

lymphoma. The new site also features

educational movies created by specialists, live seminars, and information on

societies dedicated to the treatment of blood cancer.

experience by providing the latest

treatment information in an easy-to-understand manner and with a variety of content, thereby promoting the

Refer to the following website for more details of the Award: About Bristol Myers Squibb Bristol Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company with a mission to develop and deliver innovative medicines to help patients with serious illnesses. For more details, please see, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or Instagram. HEALTHCARE ASIA


IT TAKES COLLABORATION TO MAKE SCIENCE MORE TRANSFORMATIVE. Everything it takes to advance science for life, we learn with you. We share your passion to tackle the toughest healthcare challenges. It’s why we work side-by-side with you, so we can better understand your clinical needs and work collaboratively to address them. We’ll do everything it takes to deliver the innovative solutions that make a more meaningful difference in your patients’ lives. This is the commitment behind every product, solution and relationship we build. It’s what we do every day to advance science for patients, for life. To learn more about what it takes to advance science for life, visit

© 2021 Boston Scientific Corporation and its affiliates. All rights reserved. CORP-464710-AA MAR2017 4


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Healthcare consumerisation in the

pages 30-33

Taiwan’s healthcare financing to pose risks for drugmakers

pages 26-29

AsiaPac hospitals brace for patient backlogs

page 8

Telemedicine aids Thailand health

pages 22-25

Vaccination in Asia is slow as it faces

pages 14-19

China heightens pharma exports to SSA

page 6

Over 12 million e-prescriptions issued in Australia

page 7

Bumrungrad Int’l Hospital eyes providing ‘world-class holistic healthcare’

pages 20-21

How reach52 bridges the gap in access to healthcare using tech

pages 10-13

7 ways Indonesia could boost its healthcare supply chain

page 9
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