Healthtech developments in APAC – A 2019 review

A wrap-up of the key healthtech developments in the APAC region for 2019.
By Dean Koh
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“What we have tracked and seen in the last four years is a very vibrant ecosystem, which was in the past, very e-commerce health focused to nowadays, very sophisticated with AI drug discovery, clinical trials and digital therapeutics etc. In 2018, the total amount of venture capital that was invested in Asia Pacific amounted to about $6.8B. To put in context, in the US it is $8.2B and $2B for Europe,” said Julien de Salaberry, Chief Executive Officer & Founder, Galen Growth Asia at the SFF x SWITCH conference in Singapore in November.

“So clearly Asia Pacific is the number two in the world with some four and a half to five thousand startups in the region that are growing from strength to strength and raising more money, getting more FDA regulatory type approvals,” de Salaberry added.

Notable funding rounds

Indonesia-based healthtech platform Halodoc has raised three rounds of financing from institutional investors, with the most recent funding (Series B) closed earlier this year in March, raising close to $100M (around IDR1,4 Trillion) in total. This is one of the largest raise in health tech/digital health startup in Southeast Asia this year.

Singapore-based health technology startup CXA Group announced in March that it had raised $25M in its latest round of funding, which will be used for the startup’s regional expansion. In July, CXA Group announced that they will set up the CXA Tech Hub in Vietnam, as a part of the expansion of its technical capabilities to support its growing multi-product capabilities including its proprietary HealthTech ecosystem.

In April, China’s Tencent Trusted Doctor, a venture backed by tech giant Tencent Holdings, announced that it had raised $250M in a fundraising round. Another Indonesian healthtech platform, Alodokter announced that it has raised a $33M Series C funding in October. The funds will be used to expand its hospital network integration and to further develop its health insurance service. 

Singapore-headquartered genomic medicine startup Lucence announced in November that it has raised $20M in Series A funding. The funds will be used by the startup to provide its liquid biopsy technology to more patients across Asia and North America for personalized treatment selection.

Regional partnerships

Singapore-based digital health platforms/start-ups are also expanding their presence beyond the small island-state. For instance, telehealth startup Doctor Anywhere signed a Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Bao Minh Insurance, one of the largest insurance groups in Vietnam in September this year. Subsequently in October, Doctor Anywhere partnered with ViettelPay, part of Vietnam's largest mobile carrier Viettel to bring a full suite of online healthcare services to ViettelPay's more than 6 million registered users throughout Vietnam.

Digital healthcare platform MyDoc signed an agreement with BaoViet Group Insurance, one of Vietnam’s largest listed insurance companies in November. According to MyDoc, the partnership with BaoViet is the first of its kind to offer a cashless digitally integrated clinic service to its health insurance policyholders nationwide.

National-level population health initiatives 

Fitbit, which has just recently been acquired by Google for roughly $2.1B, said in August that it will be collaborating with Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB) on a healthy population project in support of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative. Under the partnership, the HPB will leverage its outreach channels to support Fitbit in encouraging participation in its program. When participants sign on to the Fitbit program, there will also be a clear and seamless consent process to indicate if they agree to share the data they provide during the program with the HPB. 

Such data will, in turn, provide insights and contribute to more effective health promotion programs that will benefit many Singaporeans. This is Fitbit’s first major integration of a digital health platform and wearables into a national public health program globally.

While it is not directly related to population health initiatives, China’s Ping An Good Doctor reached strategic cooperation with nearly 50 hospitals across the country in July 2019 to jointly develop a new “internet hospital” model. This new model can help hospitals resolve such problems as absence in outpatient appointments, overcome geographical constraints, and expand the scope of hospital service. In addition, internet hospitals will also serve as a data integration and sharing platform to facilitate information exchange and real-time sharing among entities, forming a full-fledged, closed-loop system combining online and offline medical services.

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Above photo: (From left) Prospection Founders Eric Chung, Peter Cronin and Ricky Chen. Credit: Prospection

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