Perspectives: Telehealth - Edition 3
Source: TNB Aura LinkedIn
Perspectives by TNB Aura offers the latest intelligence on emerging industries and business models across Southeast Asia, which we believe have reached an inflection point.
The desire for action and the increased importance of sustainable value creation is arguably stronger now than ever before. Over the coming months, we continue to take a closer look at the theme of catalyzed technology, with Telehealth as the focus of this edition.
Within this issue, we ask ourselves 'Why Now?'
| Southeast Asia is now primed
for the emergence of Telehealth
i. Rising Healthcare Expenditures
Healthcare expenditure in Southeast Asia is growing at significantly faster rate than GDP. Healthcare spending in the region is projected to grow from US$425B in 2020 to US$740B by 2025.
This is largely driven by the ageing population (% above age 60 will grow from 9.6% in 2016 to 13.6% in 2025), as well as the prevalence of non-communicable and chronic diseases in the region.
ii. Uptake of Digital Services
The number of internet users in Southeast Asia is increasing rapidly, from 360M users in 2019 to 400M in 2020. The majority of new consumers are notably coming from non-metro areas.
HealthTech usage in the region expanded by 4x in 2020, accelerated by COVID19. Digital health services retained majority of users even after the strictest lockdown period and consumers in the region are expected to utilize more digital health services over the next 5 years.
iii. Public and Private Sector Support
Governments are increasing support for Telehealth by issuing policy changes, formal advisories and forming partnerships such as the Ministry of Health in Indonesia with Halodoc.
In the private sector, Pan-Asian insurance companies and local giants such as Grab have partnered with Telehealth startups including Doctor Anywhere and Ping An Good Doctor.
iv. Increasing Funding
Institutional partnerships and investments in recent years have legitimized the telehealth industry as a new pillar in the delivery of healthcare services.
The HealthTech sector in SEA had a record breaking funding level of US$267M in 2019. This is on top of a 41% CAGR in deal volume since 2014. Major deals included Halodoc (US$65M) and Alodoktor (US$33M).
| The remaining hurdles present four opportunities
for innovative players to overcome
i. Patient Acceptance
Despite growth in usage, persistence of Telehealth usage remains untested post COVID-19. For example, 57% of patients whose appointments were affected by COVID-19 would resume in-person care as soon as the pandemic resolves.
Patients are also more likely to use Telehealth for routine checkups (45%) vs more urgent care (19%).
Telehealth players should aim to create ‘sticky’ relationships with customers vs. classic ‘transactional’/ ‘one-off’ platform opportunities.
ii. High Marketing and Customer Acquisition Costs
Telehealth companies are faced with high marketing and Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC). Teladoc, a leading telehealth company had selling and marketing expenses of ~US$380M (34.8% of revenue).
Existing Southeast Asian players such as Halodoc effectively relied on a “freemium” model to grow a customer base and focus on monetizing existing users.
Establishing strong unit economics from the outset are essential to outweigh relatively high CAC investments necessary to shape user behavior.
iii. Fragmented Healthcare Ecosystem
The healthcare system in Southeast Asia is diverse and highly fragmented. Countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines have over a thousand autonomous health systems at municipal, provincial and national levels. Telehealth companies must navigate through each complex healthcare system to consolidate a large base and emerge as a local winner.
As regulators rapidly shape emerging policies, maintaining an open dialogue and compliance-forward position can become a competitive moat.
iv. Lagging Infrastructure
Digital infrastructure continues to restrict ‘real-time’ consultation capabilities, with Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines scoring among the lowest in internet connection speeds compared to broader APAC and OECD nations.
From a care provision perspective, Southeast Asia has a relative undersupply of hospital beds, qualified physicians and nurses.
Players that help enhance efficiency and reduce loads on the existing healthcare system can play a critical role in improving health outcomes in the region.
View the full issue via LinkedIn