How New-Age Healthcare Consumers Are Embracing Technology In Asia
Technology has facilitated access and directly helped meet consumer needs of comfort, care and quality
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Rapid urbanization and an exponentially increasing population have led to an outburst of communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) around the world today. What this has also done is left large pockets of communities under-served. In the wake of these challenges, the onus lies on the healthcare sector to provide quality medical care and assistance to one and all at affordable costs. While earlier, the focus was on disease-care, the industry is now oriented towards healthcare management, faced with a different set of consumer needs.
Upliftment of the Working Class
The growth of the working class has resulted in lifestyle upgrades, fast-paced lives, and an increase in overall buying power, which extends to the healthcare sector as well. NCDs and lifestyle diseases have become a major threat and more ubiquitous than ever before. The emerging healthcare market in Asia faces certain challenges such as underdeveloped infrastructure, fiscal constraints, and chronic shortages of equipment and medical professionals.
The Technology Game
However, with the advent of technology in healthcare, there is hope for innovation and business models that will disrupt the healthcare market – rather they already are. According to a paper by PwC called The Digital Healthcare Leap, the dynamics are ripe for digital healthcare solutions in Asia's emerging markets. People have shown a greater willingness to invest in mitigating health issues through whatever novel means are developing. As a result, the industry has expanded its focus to non-critical health care services such as dental, eye-care, sleep-care, pain management, nutrition, and cosmetic care to cater to this changing demand of present-day consumers.
Telemedicine (m-health, e-health, and virtual healthcare) is a rapidly emerging healthcare delivery channel with many private hospitals setting up thousands of touch points with access to virtual doctors and healthcare experts across Asia. According to estimates by Frost & Sullivan, the Asian healthcare industry will grow to the US $517 billion in 2018 itself. This expenditure is expected to transform the infrastructure and human resource landscape of the healthcare sector to cater to a growing population.
Today's consumer is more aware than ever before about health risks that come with lifestyle changes. He or she sets store by the importance of healthy living as a result of increased exposure to social media and a tech-savvy outlook. They also aim to not only treat diseases but stay ahead of the curve by spending on their wellness and overall well-being. Whether young or old, today's population is willing to adopt new technology – from wearable fitness trackers to remote health monitoring. The consumer is demonstrating strong support for new-age quality healthcare services and embracing the technological interventions that play a critical role in providing these.
The Services Provider
With the recent wave of digitalization, the medical world is basking under the brilliance of innovations that have made life easy for medical practitioners and taken patient-care to higher levels. Terms like the Internet of things (IoT), e-health, virtual clinic, mobile health, and big data analytics have become inescapable parts of any conversation on healthcare facilities today.
Many new ventures have started out with the aim of providing accessible health care to a vast majority of people across the region. The healthcare sector is extending its technological roots and priming itself newer techniques like virtual consultations to access quality healthcare. In this on-demand economy, all procedures from blood tests to dialysis have become possible in the comfort of one's own space. Trained professionals, technological advancements and a consumer-mandated push have all played a key part in making healthcare at home the new norm.
Few companies have been able to identify this situation and stepped up to provide an easy way for patients to experience the best of what healthcare today has to offer. Changing family structures mean that many people have found relief in the availability of such professional services as they get regular updates and may monitor the health of loved ones, while not being physically present with them.
Technology has facilitated access and directly helped meet consumer needs of comfort, care and quality. Helped along by internet penetration, the attitudes of the consumer have also evolved to embrace and in fact, demand more from such tech innovation. A small set of companies are focusing on this with a clear aim to offer holistic services and overall healthcare management.