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Expanding healthcare services in Asia Pacific through telehealth

Adrian M. Reodique | Sept. 20, 2016
Besides addressing privacy concerns, what else is needed to enable telehealth to take off in the region?

The telehealth market in Asia Pacific (APAC) region - including telemedicine, mobile health (mHealth), and remote patient monitoring (RPM) - is expected to reach US$1.79 billion in 2020, according to the report by Frost & Sullivan titled "Asia-Pacific Telehealth Outlook 2016-2020".

The forecasted value indicates a 12 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) from its estimated value of US$1.02 billion in 2015.

The report said the growing usage of mobile and broadband Internet service across the region pushed the adoption of new healthcare delivery models to address the challenges in the industry, including rising cost of services, and increasing incidence of chronic and infectious diseases.

"We live in an ever connected world, where we are always online, in close reach to our friends, family and institutions. In the world of healthcare, this translates to a changing landscape where patients have increased expectations of how healthcare is delivered. Today, as patients become more mobile, more connected and more social, they are also becoming active consumers and participants in their own care," said Matt Oostveen, Chief Technology Officer of EMC Converged Platforms in Asia Pacific & Japan, in an e-mail interview.

Telehealth services allow customers to receive healthcare consultation from medical professionals remotely.  "Telehealth provides patients with better treatment outcomes, by giving them more rapid access to clinicians, removing long travel times from remote locations, and importantly it reduces mortality rates, complications, and reduces hospital stays," Oostveen explained.

He added the value of telehealth goes beyond the actual delivery of care to the post-treatment, which often poses the biggest disruption to patient's recovery and a challenge for healthcare providers.

Aside from that, telehealth opens an avenue for medical professionals to extend care services on far-flung areas in the region that have no adequate access to healthcare.

For example, in the Philippines, the SES S.A along with Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, and non-governmental organisation (NGO) German Doctors have jointly launched a satellite-based e-health platform, called SATMED, to improve healthcare provision and deliver accessible digital health services to remote communities in Mindanao.

The platform allows medical professionals to collect the data of patients using only a mobile device. It also allows the German Doctors to communicate with other medical experts abroad via video conferencing.

Similarly, the Department of Health of Quang Ninh province in Vietnam leverages a video collaboration tool to provide remote healthcare consultations and follow-up care for patients.

Since it enables remote healthcare service, some consumers across the region showed preference to use telehealth to receive an immediate health consultation.

Case in point, a report by Accenture showed that more than half of consumers in Singapore (54 percent) are willing to use virtual-care technologies as a replacement for a face-to-face healthcare visit, if that would enable them to be seen sooner.


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