Healthtech breakthroughs expected

July 17, 2023 | 09:42
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Technology is created to support people. Mistakes in an important field such as medicine can have serious consequences, yet human errors cannot be completely avoided. Even if a mistake does not cause a serious impact, it can create inconvenience or loss of time and money.

Therefore, healthtech offers technologies to assist doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. For example, they can use AI to diagnose diseases based on X-ray images or use surgical robots to perform techniques that require high accuracy.

Healthtech breakthroughs expected
Duy Dang Pham, Senior lecturer and coordinator Business School, RMIT University Vietnam

Healthtech also helps improve the quality of human health, for instance, through therapy apps/chatbots for people with depression, robots to support the elderly, and smart health monitoring devices.

Operating a medical facility can be as complicated and expensive as operating a large business. Here, healthtech can supply information systems and software that help simplify and optimise processes, thereby reducing workload, improving the efficiency of inventory management, as well as increasing the capacity to communicate, exchange, and store information.

However, there are some difficulties that come from the legal framework, infrastructure, human resources, and patients.

Firstly, healthtech needs to adhere to strict guidelines and regulatory frameworks, particularly regarding the storage and transfer of critical patient data, as well as ethical issues. For instance, if a misdiagnosis is made based on AI, who is to blame? Regulatory frameworks related to testing and commercialising technologies are also needed.

In addition to human talent, we need databases large and secure enough to store electronic medical records. Information processing speed must also be fast, especially when intelligent technologies such as AI or surgical robots are being used. We also need to set up proper standards for e-medical record data.

Regarding human talent, healthtech calls for computer experts and programmers who are not only good at designing complex technology architectures and writing code but also knowledgeable in the medical field and medical profession. Similarly, doctors must step out of their comfort zone and get acquainted with their intelligent machine partners. They need to be proficient in data entry and retrieval and know how to interpret and apply recommendations made by AI in an appropriate manner.

Finally, we must consider the patients. It would be ineffective to provide smart online services if people in remote areas do not have the right tools (such as smartphones and 4G/5G networks) to access those services. There is also the issue of consumer awareness and habit when it comes to medical services.

Not every age group is proficient at using technology, and trust in medical technology is also a big problem. Try to picture yourself as a patient: would you agree to be diagnosed and prescribed by an AI doctor, or have your surgery performed by a robot?

Between 2020 and 2022, when travelling and close human contact was difficult, online pharmacies had to operate at full capacity. Doctors used messaging apps to provide remote consultations. In such a situation, healthtech is no longer an option but a requirement.

It is important to understand that healthtech will not necessarily replace doctors in the long term. But it will be a powerful assistant to improve our health quality, especially by bringing health services to those who need it in locations outside big cities, thus solving the problem of overcrowded medical facilities in Vietnam.

Vietnam is a country with a large population, where the proportion of elderly people is projected to account for 16.53 per cent by 2030. Lifestyle-related, non-communicable diseases such as obesity, tobacco addiction, alcohol addiction, and mental illnesses are gradually becoming inevitable. In addition, Gen Z, who are tech-savvy and have both a higher interest and understanding of personal health, are also gradually dominating the market.

In Southeast Asia, it is estimated that by 2025, total healthcare spending could reach $740 billion. In 2019, healthtech in Southeast Asia received $266 million in funding. I believe such a context will help healthtech become a trend in Vietnam.

Concurrently, the nation’s digital transformation programme is aiming to turn Vietnam into a digital country by 2030, creating stronger conditions for healthtech to develop here.

I hope that in the near future, the legal framework and technology infrastructure in Vietnam will be ready, a generation of tech-savvy doctors will form, private healthtech companies will cooperate effectively with the public sector, and Gen-Z will become truly interested in using healthtech services to take care of themselves and their families.

Scale Vietnam launched to support health-tech startups Scale Vietnam launched to support health-tech startups

On April 14, VMED Group launched Scale Vietnam as a platform to support health-tech startups, enabling them to grow and solve existing health problems.

By Duy Dang

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