Southeast Asia's Health Care Startups Attract More Investors
Startups in Southeast Asia, especially those in health care and deliveries, have managed to raise millions of dollars to accelerate their expansion, showing investors' appetite to find promising openings in the region despite the economic turmoil stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the health care startups that seem to have been boosted during the pandemic is Singapore-based telehealth app Doctor Anywhere, which raised $27 million in late March in a series B funding round from a group of investors including Malaysian hospital operator IHH Healthcare.
"Since the start of the outbreak, we've had more people reaching out to us in the past weeks expressing interest and setting up conversations [for potential investments]," Doctor Anywhere's founder and CEO Lim Wai Mun told the Nikkei Asian Review.
The Doctor Anywhere app allows more than 1 million users to consult a local doctor via video call -- at 20 Singapore dollars ($14) per consultation in Singapore -- and get medication delivered to the user's location within hours. It also has an online health products marketplace. Some 1,300 general practitioners and health care specialists in Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are registered on the platform.
As the coronavirus started to spread, the telehealth platform gained more attention. It was deployed at Singapore's ferry terminal customs checkpoints to help with on-the-spot checks of the health of passengers with symptoms of COVID-19 via a teleconsultation. It also provides medical services for home-quarantined individuals in the city-state.
Doctor Anywhere's business has experienced "a two- to three-fold increase" since the COVID-19 crisis started, Lim said. "The COVID-19 situation, while unfortunate, has brought to light the need for telehealth as a useful tool and additional means to address workforce issues, care for at-risk populations, and deliver health care more efficiently."
The company will use the $27 million to reinforce its existing business in Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and to facilitate expansion into new markets such as Malaysia and the Philippines this year, he said.
During the first three months of 2020, Vietnamese drugstore chain Pharmacity also raised $31.8 million, while Malaysian food delivery startup Dahmakan raised $18 million, according to Crunchbase.
Over the past two to three years, telehealth apps have been seen as a promising sector in Southeast Asia due to a scarcity of doctors and a burgeoning middle-class population who are more conscious about their health.
Source : This is part of an article originally published on Nikkei Asian Review