Tapping Asia’s Vast Potential for Healthcare Solutions

Singapore-based healthtech company HealthBeats is taking its innovative healthcare solutions to Asia and beyond.

Started in 2018, Singapore-headquartered HealthBeats provides patients with medical grade devices, a global software platform, and end-to-end software services that allow patients to monitor their health conditions at home and have their results transmitted real-time to their healthcare providers.

The company has a growing international presence, with a subsidiary in the US and operations in Australia and India. It has also witnessed increasing demand for its services in Asia, including countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, China, and Japan.

BiZQ speaks to HealthBeats founder Aileen Lai, who shared the company’s growth during the pandemic, their expansion into India, and how SBF’s FYIstival initiative is helping them in their internationalisation efforts.

How has COVID-19 accelerated the digitalisation of healthcare monitoring, and how has this impacted your business?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were already supporting our customers in remote monitoring of their patients. However, the pandemic threw everyone off-guard as all resources were shifted to focus on COVID-19 patients. This meant existing patients had to defer their appointments and remain at home to manage their own conditions. Our patients were very relieved that they could continue to stay connected with their health providers and be monitored at home in case of any deterioration of their conditions.

As a global platform, we were able to deploy our solutions rapidly and at-scale, as we shifted our focus towards supporting hospitals to look after critically ill COVID-19 patients. For example, we supplied pulse oximeters and thermometers together with our platform to allow hospitals to monitor the conditions of critically ill Covid-19 patients that they were unable to care for within the hospital.

The demand for our projects has accelerated tremendously. For example, we deployed one project across more than 20 hospitals and clinics in five months.

How can a global platform for remote healthcare monitoring help mitigate the spread of a virus during a pandemic?

The remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients goes some way to giving them peace of mind while they stay at home to recuperate.

It also allows patients to shorten their stay in the hospital as they can be provided with post-hospitalisation care at home.

Chronic patients can also defer their visits to hospitals or clinics as they can be monitored remotely by their care providers.

The platform also enables healthcare workers to monitor the vital signs of patients remotely thus reducing physical contact and exposure. This also results in a significant reduction in the usage of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Given the resurgence of COVID-19 in South Asia, what are some challenges and opportunities you foresee for the business in this region?

South Asia is one of the most populous regions in the world. Businesses looking to venture into this region must appreciate its unique characteristics both as a region and as individual countries.

For HealthBeats, this region presents immense opportunities. South Asian countries are at different stages of development in their search for longer-term solutions to face the next resurgence or pandemic. We are looking at how we can better support the varying needs and challenges of these countries. For example, we are working to make our solutions more affordable for a larger pool of patients without compromising quality.

With the tremendous effort and investments that the industry is making in healthcare innovation, we believe that it will improve and lower the cost of medical devices we use as part of HealthBeats’ platform solutions.

How did you learn about FYIstival and how has it helped your company’s internationalisation plans, particularly in South Asia?

We were pleasantly surprised when SBF organised a FYIstival networking webinar with a focus on healthcare in India. We were able to introduce the products and services that our company has to offer to Indian healthcare companies, and to get to know each other in a small roundtable discussion. The advisors from SBF also followed up to connect us with other healthcare companies to spark future collaborations.

Gaining inroads into the India market also helped us to support subsequent urgent requests for healthcare aid.

Can you share some advice with other Singapore companies looking to expand into overseas markets during this pandemic?

The challenges on the ground are very real. It can be immense, and companies must be sufficiently prepared.

To take that first step towards expanding into an overseas market is key. For my business, we select overseas markets to venture into based on our assessment of market needs, the maturity of the market in adopting our solutions, and a clear business model. We are mindful and sensitive to local cultures, and seek not to change things, but rather to assimilate. We bridge gaps by working closely with local partners. Having said that, the journey has not been without costly lessons , but overall, the large market opportunities outweigh the risks.