NTUitive-incubated Startup MyDoc speaks with Enterprise Innovation on all things digital healthcare
Date: 18 Jan 2018
Healthier businesses start with healthier employees
Dr. Snehal Patel, CEO and Co-founder, MyDoc Pte Ltd
The Singaporean workforce is not a happy one. According to a 2017 Asia Pacific Benefit Trends Survey released by Willis Towers Watson, more than half of Singaporean employees are unsatisfied with their workplace benefits and agree that current benefit packages do not provide sufficient choice, flexibility and diversity.
As such, 86% of companies in Singapore are considering evaluating the success and effectiveness of their benefits package in the next 3 years. With the introduction of digital healthcare platforms, companies are now given the option to conveniently contact insurers, hospitals and various healthcare providers at the same time. This streamlines the process of acquiring healthcare benefit packages, saving employers both time, energy and money.
MyDoc, a digital healthcare provider in Singapore, recently launched MyDoc@Work with a goal to improve the quality of corporate health and drive ROI-based health for corporates. PWC studies using MyDoc data shows that the platform saved companies upwards of 500% on healthcare costs. Patients were also 6 times more likely to follow up via virtual consultations with physicians.
Healthcare Innovation speaks with Dr. Snehal Patel, CEO and co-founder of MyDoc Pte Ltd, who shares his insight on how digital healthcare can provide win-win-win situations for stakeholders, the perils of increasingly accessible healthcare, and how fake illnesses and fraud can be limited for online health services.
How are the norms around health and lifestyle benefits changing in Singapore and around the region?
What we do not realize is that digital healthcare services are decades old, and Asia is starting to catch up with countries like the US and the UK. There are currently millions of people receiving care regularly through services like telemedicine, but Asian consumers are only just becoming comfortable with new technologies and solutions to receive quality care.
However, the good news is that Asia can benefit from state-of-the-art digital health solutions without the investment in expensive and effective technologies. For example, instead of standalone telemedicine solutions that have had mixed results in other markets, they can benefit from new platforms like ours that incorporate telemedicine and artificial intelligence. We package this experience to allow patients to receive quality care safely, more efficiently and with less time and expense. In addition, there is a definite shift in the way that patients understand and want to receive quality care.
We are seeing greater adoption of our services through our corporate and insurer partners, as well as other traditional healthcare brands. This shows that the overall consumer mindset of wanting things on-demand and convenience-first is entering the healthcare industry as well.
What are the benefits that such a service can bring to a) employers b) employees c) insurers?
MyDoc’s mission is to simplify healthcare. We do this by bringing together the healthcare ecosystem, including employers, employees and insurers. As an integrated healthcare platform that supports services like online consultations, e-referrals, online prescriptions, and insurer services, we can reduce inefficiencies and help each stakeholder in the ecosystem benefit in turn.
With MyDoc@Work, employers benefit in two main ways. We digitize a lot of administrative load such as MCs, as well as reduce the opportunity for human error. Also, MyDoc users tend to utilize our service at a far greater rate than traditional health services and even other digital services, so we have seen an overall healthier workforce, which usually translates to a more productive one. However, this may be a major problem for Singapore’s economy, with a study estimating that companies will lose up to S$3.3 billion (US$2.5 billion) by the 2030.
Employees benefit from easier and more accessible healthcare, which they can use from the comfort of their home, office or even on the go. For example, patients who require an MC can now consult a doctor from their house, receive a prescription and an MC, without having to go to a clinic. There is no longer a need to leave the house when you’re feeling sick or in pain, as you can receive care through such platforms.
For the insurers we work with like AIA, Aetna, AXA and others, we help by simplifying the claims process, where it is often cashless for patients. The insurer is informed automatically when a patient receives a consult and prescription, reducing processing time and human error. Our ability to track data and provide analysis also enables insurers to measure the overall success of healthcare programs, which can help with adjusting the costs of premiums. Overall, this reduces the cost of care for patients, which provides cost benefits for the insurer and even the patient, as the cost savings can result in lower premiums over time.
How can the disconnect between what employers provide and what employees want be bridged?
We do not believe the goals for each side are different, just that employers and employees look at it from different viewpoints. There are proven studies that the efficiency and productivity of employees improve when they are healthier. We want to drill down to the basics of the matter – how can we make employees healthier. This will then result in employer benefits through motivated staff, improved productivity and a positive impact on the bottom-line.
Being an online service, would there be more opportunity for online fraud, in terms of fake illnesses, identity fraud, non-payment etc.?
We take every step to validate who uses our service and the doctors on our panel are highly experienced and trained to identify issues through online consultations. By working directly with corporates and insurers, there is also an extra layer of security and verification that happens beforehand to limit any form of fraud.
How do you ensure privacy and security of patient data?
At MyDoc, we focus on industry-leading cybersecurity measures that are consistently validated by the top insurers and global brands. We strive to be the industry standard for digital health security for Singapore and the region.
Health data is personal information that belongs to the patient and therefore we believe should be regulated similarly to financial data. This also means that the patient is given the power and control of their data in choosing whom they share it with. We are committed to protecting our users’ information, which is why we consistently review and test our own data security to ensure it is the best in the industry.
In your opinion, what does future digital healthcare in Singapore look like?
Singapore has a great opportunity to become the regional hub for digital healthcare. As consumer education and understanding of the market has improved over the last few years, they are now looking for digital health solutions.
Take for example the community digital health program we launched with Guardian Pharmacy in Singapore. This free medical Q&A service has been growing steadily since we relaunched it in July 2017. We have seen thousands of queries so far and more people are joining the service daily. While this is a small sample, it is indicative of the trends we have seen throughout most of the region. People want convenience without sacrificing quality and that is the same for healthcare.
This means that change is happening, and the industry is ready for it.
There will be greater adoption of online consultations offered through clinics and hospitals, which will help increase access to quality care, while keeping costs down for the patients. The impact for patients who require long-term management like will be significant in helping them receive quality care at a lower cost and more conveniently. However, the real impact of the service will be felt if adoption of these services is followed by developing a truly integrated system that connects the entire network of services that the patient really needs. This ensures that we keep the patient experience within a single high-quality care network.
An integration of different services should allow easier transmission of data across multiple services, allowing patients to receive the care they need without having to register or provide the same information multiple times. Eliminating unnecessary repetition will also limit mistakes and remove the confusion many patients feel when receiving care. Although this can also apply to medical devices, there is still some way to go in ensuring the quality of the device and creating a standard of measurement that is universally recognized.
This is how we see the growth of digital health in Singapore in the next few years. It is likely that there will be new breakthroughs in healthcare technology that will change the whole industry, and this is truly an exciting time to be part of it all.