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65% of hospitals in APAC are increasing spending on digitalisation, says report

A majority of hospitals in the Asia-Pacific region are planning to increase their spending on digitalisation in the next three years to minimise medical errors and raise patient satisfaction, a regional survey found.

The survey conducted by L.E.K. Consulting with over 400 hospital executives identified trends that are defining APAC hospitals’ priorities and how they have adapted during COVID-19.

WHY IT MATTERS

One of these trends is the accelerating adoption of digital health solutions, which are primarily used to strengthen doctors’ services. For example, one in four hospitals in Australia, China and Singapore are already employing digital health solutions, the top two of which are remote consultations (25%) and robot-enabled surgery (21%).

In Japan, four in 10 executives say digital health solutions such as digital wound management are not a priority or they are unaware of them. Still, around half are found to be trialling or interested in such solutions.

The report further found innovative drugs, therapies and non-therapeutic appliances (such as medical furniture, infection control and sterilisation equipment) to be at the top of spending categories.

There remain, however, key areas of concern in the adoption of digital health solutions – adjusting the standard of care for digital care, the interoperability (or lack thereof) of different solutions, and increased concerns around patient privacy.

In general, fewer hospitals, or only about a quarter from 30%-40% previously, are actually planning to increase their overall spending over the next three years due to ongoing uncertainty.

There is also a reduction in planned capital expenditure for medical devices and equipment, especially diagnostic imaging equipment. Yet, seven in 10 executives are expecting to spend more on medical consumables and more hospitals are targeting to raise their spending on implantable medical devices this year compared to a year ago.

Finally, it was noted that doctors have engaged with sales representatives through digital channels given the restricted physical access to healthcare institutions during the pandemic. The “new” normal is most likely where the use of digital channels is high, the report says. It was found that more than 20% of APAC hospitals are using digital tools to interact with pharmaceutical and medical technology companies. Messaging apps like WeChat in China, LINE in Thailand and Kakao Talk in South Korea are also used as informal channels.

Given this trend, pharmaceutical and medical technology firms need to rethink their sales operating models and their go-to-market strategies, the survey suggested. For example, implementing remote selling could help them in expanding their geographical coverage. Medical technology firms have to incorporate augmented and virtual reality technologies in selling highly sophisticated devices without hands-on support.

THE LARGER TREND

Steve Roest of PocDoc, a digital healthcare service provider, said more solutions to meet increasing patient demand for at-home testings are needed this year, given the pandemic’s impact. “[W]e foresee an increasing demand from healthcare organisations to deliver point of care testing for a range of health conditions, both in and out of the traditional clinic setting,” he told MobiHealthNews earlier this year.

The global digital health market, which was valued at $96.5 billion last year, is expected to grow at a 15.1% CAGR by 2028, due to the growing need for more remote patient monitoring services and the fast adoption of digital health technologies.

Over the next seven years, the mobile health technology space is seen to have a lucrative CAGR on the back of growing smartphone penetration and internet connectivity, availability of mobile health app,s and increasing usage among physicians and patients. The development of new products and swift technological advancements will also propel this segment.

Moreover, the healthcare analytics space is projected to record the fastest CAGR as usage of big data is boosted by pressure to reduce costs and expenditures from hospital workflow inefficiencies and medical product flaws.

ON THE RECORD

“Though 2020 has put the healthcare industry to a test, where the uncertainties are tenfold, any emerging trends or shifts should be closely monitored, for they determine the success for medtech and pharma companies in this changing ecosystem,” said Fabio La Mola, partner at L.E.K. Consulting Singapore.

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