Healthtech has the potential to improve our quality of life, making us not only longer by also have a better quality of life.
In the US, AIME, a start-up using artificial intelligence (AI) and public health expertise, has created a platform capable of predicting deadly Zika and Dengue outbreaks three months in advance, geolocating them up to a 400 meter radius with an accuracy ranging from 88.70 per cent.
Start-ups across Southeast Asia are also envisioning great opportunities in the growing health-tech market.
From consumer health portals and tele-health solutions to data aggregation platforms, they are coming up with new and innovative ideas to challenge health systems and resources across the region.
According to a report by Galen Growth Asia, in the first half of 2018, funding in the Asian healthtech sector reached US$3.3 billion across 107 deals, more than US$550 million higher than the total for 2017.
Although Singapore and Indonesia are still the most "attractive" locations in the region for healthtech, Malaysian start-ups are flourishing and are not being left behind when it comes to new digital healthcare ideas - in fact, the country's deal volume share has increased by five per cent.
Below are ten of the most innovative start-ups that are currently disrupting the health-tech arena in Malaysia.
In January 2018, Malaysian health-tech start-up Naluri announced an approximately MYR1 million (US$250,000) in seed funding round from Singapore-based healthcare analytics company BioMark and 500 Startups’ Southeast Asia focus-funded 500 Durians.
With the suitable domain naluri.life, Naluri is a smartphone app which enables “a healthier you” by combining behavioural science, data science and digital design. Some of the app’s features include a real-time chat with a health coach, food and thought journals and a daily planner.
By subscribing to their paid “digital health” programmes, Naluri wants to make Malaysians more active and lead healthier lifestyles.
Hypoglycemia is a common complication experienced by diabetics. Its onset is characterised by symptoms which include a cold sweat, palpitations and dizziness that are unrecognisable whilst asleep.
To monitor the symptoms of hypoglycemia, Malaysian company Geob International has created the HypoBand, a “cold sweat device” for diabetes management that can be worn as a wrist watch.
The gadget works by pairing with an android smartphone via bluetooth. The smartphone calls out, sms or alarms when the Hypoband detects cold sweat or a panic button is triggered, alerting carers or emergency contacts. Its battery typically lasts for 12 hours after a full charge.
Although HypoBand measures the skin’s humidity and temperature levels, it does not detect glucose levels. The Hypoband 1.1 for Android and iPhone costs US$192.80.
BookDoc launched in 2015 as a one-stop app for wellness information and comes with the endorsement of Malaysia’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism and Social Security Organisation.
The application lets patients locate local doctors and hospitals and is integrated with travel, ride-hailing, and hotel booking apps (BookDoc’s partners include Uber, Grab, Airbnb, TripAdvisor and Agoda).
On top of the main app, BookDoc Active encourages users to stay fit and provides rewards for them to do so. The app also helps corporations monitor their employees’ health and manage medical and wellness benefits.
The start-up has done so well that it has attracted investments from Prince Abdul Qawi, a nephew of the sultan of Brunei, and casino mogul Stanley Ho.
This start-up assists enterprises managing their employees’ health benefits from a single platform. HealthMetrics claims that it can save 10 per cent on admin fees and up to 13,000 hours of work.
The platform provides a web-based solution to assist the Human Resource (HR) department by simplifying and managing the complexities of employee healthcare plans.
Its solution empowers HR teams to customise their employee benefit plans according to the needs of their employees without having to use complex monitoring systems. It works by connecting corporations to various healthcare providers around Malaysia according to the employee benefit plans.
Earlier this year, HealthMetrics secured US$1 million in funding from local VC firms RHL Ventures and Cradle Seed Ventures, and Japan-based Spiral Ventures. The start-up is now looking into expanding its services to other healthcare verticals.
PurelyB is Asia’a leading health and wellness online community portal that serves as the go-to-guide for leading a sustainable healthy lifestyle. They provide holistic wellness content on nutrition, fitness and mindfulness with a mission to transform people’s quality of health and life through online guided solutions created by health experts worldwide.
Although headquartered in Malaysia and with a regional focus, they have also found a wide audience in Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, India, Australia, North America and the United Kingdom.
Among the platform features are free educational, inspirational wellness content localised to Asia on nutrition, fitness, wellness and mindfulness, and 3-12 week customised programmes with video coaching by health experts.
The start-up has won several awards, including the ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Rising Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 and Marie Claire’s Top 10 Amazing Women of 2017 Award (most of the start-ups executives are women).
A homegrown Malaysian company, HomeGP has “a mission to revolutionise healthcare provision in the Asian country”. Rather than being a healthcare company, HomeGP connects patients looking for healthcare to professionals that can visit them at home.
They also offer private home caregivers, licensed physiotherapists, pathology lab services and medicine courier services - all through their website. Their services cover all of the Malaysian territory.
Fees vary depending on the service but a standard weekday doctor housecall visit costs RM 250 and a 4 hour nurse visit RM 100.
DoctorOnCall is Malaysia’s first online medical video consultation platform that combines video and voice technologies with the medical knowledge and experience of Malaysia’s top doctors.
It takes the inspiration from projects already undertaken in the US, Australia and Europe, where patients are diagnosed by healthcare professionals from home through Skype or other video conferencing apps.
DoctorOnCall provides patients with on-demand access to GPs via chat, phone or video call, e-prescription and medication delivery within 1-2 hours in certain areas of Malaysia.
It is an open platform for qualified and licensed doctors to provide virtual consultation during their spare time, depending on their capacity and geographical location.
CYGEN is a cloud based, patient-centric, cognitive preventive healthcare platform.
Their target audience is people with high-stress levels and a predisposition to lifestyle related diseases. Using predictive analysis, this IT platform works to prevent lifestyle-related diseases by helping each individual to fight the disease before it develops.
The platform creates personalised health profiles which remind users of basic health-checks and provide daily healthcare tips. They also create “Smart Health Care Packages” tailored to each individual.
Currently based in Malaysia and India, they are planning to open new branches across other ASEAN countries.
The “first ever TeleHealth platform for migrants”, ClicknCare is a tele-health initiative by Simple Motion, a tech startup based in Malaysia, which helps migrants around the globe to talk to doctors in their native language using a digital platform.
Their aim is to be an "Uber for Health Service Ride", enabling migrants of any country to find their own local doctors with whom they can discuss medical problems without language or cultural barriers.
This award-winning community medical support network founded in 2014 provide access to quality healthcare for Malaysians through their online platform.
A sort of directory, MyDoc provides patients with information so they can make informed decisions on choosing their healthcare service provider. Such information may include the doctor’s experience, ex-patients’ satisfaction, quality of the clinic, etc.
It also allows other medical and healthcare professionals to present their services, works and practices online, making them more discoverable by potential patients.