Med-tech groups open up to pandemic opportunities

September 04, 2021 | 08:00
Application of IT in the healthcare sector is now booming in Vietnam to serve the pandemic battle, with future prospects of development to further enhance medical tech businesses on the back of the Industry 4.0 era, and incentive policies.
Med-tech groups open up to pandemic opportunities
Several countries in the region are applying the likes of blockchain in attempts to defeat COVID-19. Photo: Le Toan

The south-western province of Tay Ninh is now feeling at ease with taking COVID-19 samples and delivery of testing results thanks to the application of a new platform on managing test sample collection and returning test results.

Nguyen Tan Duc, director of Tay Ninh Department of Information and Communications, said that the application of technology is supporting the province, enabling it to have accurate data and take speedy samples.

“The testing results are available on the National Technology Centre for COVID-19 Prevention and Control. Therefore, people can get the results online, thus preventing gatherings,” he added.

People install Bluezone on their smartphones and get a health declaration QR code to receive the testing result on the app. This platform helps healthcare workers better manage and ease the pressure for them while preventing gatherings and possible mistakes like late delivery of results.

Tay Ninh piloted the platform in four wards from mid-August and decided to expand to nine districts, towns, and the city from August 18 after getting positive feedback. Together with Tay Ninh, this platform is being deployed in badly-hit southern localities such as Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Can Tho, and Vinh Long. Around 26 other localities are preparing to deploy the platform.

The system is one of three (in conjunction with QR codes and health declarations) developed by the National Technology Centre for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, and being used commonly and consistently nationwide, aiming to increase efficiency. The two others are medical declaration and management of access to public places by QR code, and the COVID-19 vaccination management.

Established in June, the centre has the involvement of 20 digital technology businesses nationwide, and thousands of state staff and domestic and international IT experts. Leading technology brands involved include Bluezone developer Bkav, CMC, FPT, and Sovico as well as emerging players like Got It, STEAM for Vietnam, Kompa Group, Filum, and G-Group. In the wake of the importance of technology as an indispensable tool in the battle, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has mobilised many resources to build technology platforms to support pandemic prevention and control in the country.

Along with the aforementioned nationwide platforms, others are being utilised to support tracing those who have contact with infected cases, to monitor quarantine, and to serve leadership and management activities through data analysis. Last week, a new platform called Giup toi! (Help Me!) was launched to connect doctors with people in need of remote healthcare consultations while social distancing measures are in place. It is developed by Got It Vietnam, STEAM for Vietnam, Kompa Group, and Filum AI.

Many others have been launched like an electronic health book application, a public portal of vaccination information, a national immunisation support system, and a telehealth system have been developed as well. Besides this, technology is enabling about 4,000 health professionals to remotely screen and take care of infections in Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, and Hanoi. At present, many resuscitation centres are also being put into operation in Ho Chi Minh City to provide specific treatment for COVID-19 infections.

To enable locals to better access healthcare during the pandemic, in early August, Vietnam launched a telehealth platform, connecting over 30 central hospitals with all more than 1,400 district-level hospitals, including those located in mountainous and island areas. Big tech companies are venturing further into this national effort. Viettel and Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) developed the telehealth system for hospitals and health facilities nationwide. In the IT solutions market, FPT Healthcare, VMED Group, and Isofth are also big players. Many tech startups and others are also venturing into the segment.

Industry insiders said that Industry 4.0 is now a driving force for med-tech firms in Vietnam to venture future, and advanced technologies of Industry 4.0 are now among the focuses for technology firms. Nguyen Tu Quang, CEO of Bkav, reaffirmed that AI is proving its strength and advantage in the COVID-19 fight in Vietnam and will be more effective – for example, the application of camera AI to detect illegal entry to the country, and supervising activities at quarantine areas.

According to Huy Nguyen, co-founder and CTO of KardiaChain, many regional countries like Singapore, South Korea, and Malaysia are applying blockchain in the management of COVID-19 vaccine passports. In addition in Vietnam, blockchain is being deployed at some hospitals to manage medical records.

As the prime minister defined that technology is among the spearhead pillars in the national COVID-19 fight, he has asked the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) to work with the MIC along with the ministries of health, and finance to work on incentive policies to encourage research and development of technology products for the pandemic issue.

By Bich Thuy

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