Singapore

More tech-ing charge of their own health

Growing number of healthcare start-ups make medical services more accessible

With connectivity at nearly everyone's fingertips, the tech-driven consumer healthcare industry in Asia is estimated to be worth something in the range of billions now.

Associate Professor Sarah Cheah at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School told The Straits Times that close to 900 investors helped seal healthtech deals in 2015, up 25 per cent from 2014.

And the industry keeps growing.

Prof Cheah said given the factors of an ageing population, growing affluence of the middle class and rising healthcare costs, there can be expected to be more healthcare start-ups growing in areas including chronic disease management, digital diagnostics as well as consumer health and wellness.

She said: "As financial risks in healthcare are being shifted from institutional payers to individual consumers in the form of higher insurance premiums, consumers face rising cost burdens and expect more personalised and convenient services from service providers in the healthcare sector.

"Tech-based healthcare start-ups that can fulfil this growing demand for greater personalisation and convenience at affordable prices are likely to do well."

More patients are now tracking their steps each day and engaging their physicians on their exercise profile. Associate Professor James Yip at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

A survey by insurance firm Cigna published this year found the average Singaporean to be open to making use of healthcare technology.

Of the 1,000 surveyed, four in 10 owned a health application or gadget. Another two in 10 did not own any but planned to.

DEMAND

In Singapore, more tech-enabled healthcare start-ups have sprung up to offer a myriad services to meet this demand like the app that allows customers to have a personalised meal designed by dietitians.

The world of health and wellness is at their fingertips.

Singapore-based start-ups such as Cardiatrics, RingMD and PX Plate are making healthcare services more accessible by bringing doctors, medical services and healthy eating right to the user's smartphone.

Dr Peter Ting, a cardiologist at Gleneagles Hospital and co-founder of Cardiatrics, a tech-enabled healthcare start-up, said: "Now, patients do not have to go down to a centre several times a week to see a few different doctors. They can have a whole healthcare team easily accessible through one device.

"It allows us to make better use of resource and expertise in an efficient and effective way. It also allows for timely feedback and more effective monitoring."

Associate Professor James Yip at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine said he sees patients increasingly making use of healthtech applications that help them attain better health

"More patients are now tracking their steps each day and engaging their physicians on their exercise profile. Some even have heart rate monitors as an adjunct to exercise."

Today, the Singaporean start-up space is full of innovative ideas to help the everyday consumer live better and well.

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

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