Rise of vital telehealth services providing much-needed access

September 30, 2021 | 15:00
Telehealth startups are popping up more than ever before, aiming to innovate the healthcare sector and cater to the huge demand.
Rise of vital telehealth services providing much-needed access
Docosan, a startup based in Ho Chi Minh City

Docosan, a startup based in Ho Chi Minh City, enables patients to search for doctors and book appointments on its platform. The firm has experienced 200 per cent growth in bookings in the last two months.

Beth Ann Lopez, co-founder and CEO of Docosan said, “COVID-19 has changed the way that healthcare is delivered in Vietnam, and the innovations that have emerged during this time are here to stay. Telemedicine can be used by doctors to conduct initial consultations, as well as for remote monitoring and aftercare.”

Telehealth allows patients with mild symptoms to manage their condition from the comfort of their homes, while freeing up resources from busy hospitals and quarantine areas.

“We currently have over 140 medical providers who are offering teleconsultations across special fields, ranging from paediatrics over dentistry to oncology,” Lopez added.

Meanwhile, Doctor Anywhere, a regional tech-led healthcare company, has raised $65.7 million in its Series C financing round to expand its footprint in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam.

According to Le Ngoc Hai, CEO of Doctor Anywhere Vietnam, digital healthcare has proven its usefulness by delivering high-quality, cost-effective, and seamlessly accessible services.

“We have witnessed significant growth in the number of users and partners. The figures for new sign-ups and downloads increased two-fold per month. Previously, around 200 online consultations were made on the app daily. But these days, the number has doubled, surging to 500 calls on our busiest days,” he said.

MedPro is another startup that has sprung up to meet the surging demand for online healthcare. Nguyen Xuan Quang, chairman and CEO of MedPro shared, “As many people have to be treated at home, telehealth is currently the optimal solution.”

Registrations for online medical examinations through MedPro are increasing strongly, not only for COVID-19 but also other illnesses that people have been suffering with.

To ease the burden, the Ministry of Health has proposed that local hospitals in virus-hit cities and provinces set up remote clinics to advise and treat patients at home.

Doctors will use online apps such as Zalo, Zoom, Viber, and Facebook in combination with electronic health management records to provide the most effective support for patients. Frontline hospitals are also requested to publish their phone numbers on public media, so that people can contact them for help.

In response to the campaign, some medical facilities have set up virtual clinic systems to cater to the growing demand.

Meanwhile, Doctor Anywhere also engages in this campaign by expanding its network. “With more efforts put on improving core services like virtual consultations and online pharmacies, Doctor Anywhere could provide prompt and helpful assistance for people,” Hai said.

Meanwhile, MedPro has partnered with hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and other localities to deploy the MedPro online booking system and launch the free telehealth feature to support COVID-19 patients.

According to the Digital Healthcare in Vietnam report by KPMG, telehealth will play an important role in supporting diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases across the population. However, this poses a challenge for lower-income groups with less access to tech advances, particularly those in remote, underdeveloped, or rural areas.

As telehealth is a fairly new option in Vietnam, some operations will need time for both medical staff and patients to get used to. On top of that, doctors may also not be comfortable using digital technology due to their years of in-person experience.

“We see medical providers as partners,” Lopez of Docosan said. “We do not have brick and mortar clinics and have no desire to compete. Rather, we hope to enable them to expand their businesses by connecting them with new patients.”

By Thanh Van

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