Health Tech in Indonesia – The next big Tech Revolution in the Making – in Conversation with Grace Tahir, CEO and Co-Founder – Medico, Director – Mayapada Hospitals

20-Jul-2020   Ms. Grace Tahir, Designation: Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Medico   Author: Jalaj Bhayana

Healthcare sector has been impacted notably after the entry of Health Tech companies into the industry. With the advent of new players in the market, these services have evolved from doctor visits to online consultations, from visiting the pharmacy stores to getting the drugs home delivered and more. In addition to these, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the health tech, especially e-health platforms has seen an increase in their consumer base. There are a lot of advancements that will happen in the future and it is expected that Health tech market will help in the efficiency for the doctors and health care providers along with an ease for the patients with more advancements in terms of accessibility of the patient medical records.

In conversation with Ms. Grace Tahir, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer (CEO)- Medico and Director – Mayapada Hospitals – A Healthcare IT systems provider, we attempted to seek her opinions and understand her side of story to ‘Health Tech Industry in Indonesia’. Here are some excerpts of the interview:

1. What are the services provided by Medico? How is Medico’s business model different from others in the industry?

Medico offers Clinical Management System as a core product and has recently launched telemedicine, as there is a dire need, especially in times like these (COVID-19 pandemic). Telemedicine is believed to be a trend even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
Medico offers a fixed module for clinics with very little to no customizations, which is a subscription based solution with monthly payments and an annual contract. Medico only works with the Mayapada hospitals to provide a customized Hospital Information System which has a per invoice fee charge.
There are not many CMS available in the market as many of the clinics are paper based. Medico is a SaaS based system which makes it easier for installation and regular updates as well. Medico provides very affordable subscription and there is no upfront big cost associated.

2. What are the factors that contribute towards the growth of the Healthcare IT systems sector in Indonesian market?

Virtually there is no data on overall spending on Healthcare IT systems in Indonesia, the reason being that Indonesia is a developing country and is lagging behind many ASEAN countries. Lagging behind in terms of accessibility, quality care, data collection, supply of medical workers, thus the data that has been published in many reports still focus on macro healthcare spending and not specifically healthcare IT spending. Even though there is growth in expenditure in Healthcare but not specific to health IT sector. The healthcare expenditure in Indonesia is around USD 60 Billion with a double digit growth annually of approximately 10-15%.

3.  What are the current pain points in the industry?

Healthcare facilities are clinics and hospitals which are further divided into private and non private/ government facilities. The challenges for healthcare IT are – firstly, the lack of infrastructure. There are many parts of Indonesia where the healthcare providers still use paper based systems and IT systems are lacking in their day to day operations. Converting or digitalizing them would take a lot more effort than just installing a system when we talk in terms of resources. Paper based processes are very popular in Indonesia. The next big challenge is the behavioral change that needs to be addressed, as many healthcare providers are using basic tools like word and excel which are not even connected. People need more education and a better understanding of IT being an integral part of their operations and not just a trivial spending.

4.  As per our research, around 95% of the healthcare facilities lack automation. What could be the reasons behind this? And also, why is the availability of Healthcare IT systems high in Jakarta as compared to other regions?

It is due to the limited budget and resources and also, due to the lack of awareness. There is a common thought among the owners of the healthcare facilities that IT is not important aspect of their spending and they better spend their limited resources on equipments or infrastructure of the building or training their medical staff. Healthcare IT will always take a back seat on all the other expenditures. With COVID-19 happening, a lot of hospital owners/ healthcare providers in Indonesia are rushing to get emergency supplies and all the IT projects are kind of held back because they feel that IT is not important, but IT can play an important role in this situation as well through telemedicine and other e-health platforms. This is the culture and the behavior that needs to be addressed.

Jakarta is the capital and everything starts from Jakarta. The hospitals in Jakarta are better equipped, the staff is highly skilled and the doctor per patient ratio is very well there. People are more educated and spend more in Jakarta as compared to other parts of Indonesia.

5. What impact does Universal health policy (BPJS) have on the health tech industry? Why did major companies enter the market after the launch of BPJS in Indonesia? What are the rules or laws that govern the health tech industry?

It has nothing to do with BPJS. People are having difficulties in accessing healthcare even with BPJS. It is just a trend for digital health in Indonesia. Every industry in Indonesia has risen up in the past 5-10 years just as the health tech industry. It is a natural process, after ed-tech and fin tech, health tech would be the next big thing in Indonesia. Also, currently there is no clarity on the laws that govern the health tech or e-health sector. Companies operate in any manner until they become a huge success.

In 2012, it was made mandatory for the hospitals to have HIS but until now the rule is inactive as many hospitals don’t have such systems. The rules are very vague and not defined for the health tech sector.

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6. Taking into account the impact of COVID-19, what will be the impact on the future of this industry?

In general, the impact of COVID-19 will be positive with the growth for telemedicine and e-pharmacy, meaning more patients and doctors would switch to e-health. The government is relaxing the rules for E-prescription, but as with other new regulations due to the urgency of the pandemic, we don't know how far and how permanent these new regulations are and will be. People would be forced to adapt to technology due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In terms of digitalization, it won’t affect much as it will still take time for the healthcare providers to adapt to the IT systems. The impact of COVID-19 is a double edge sword, where on one side, the healthcare IT would grow as people would invest more in technologies that are patient centric and on the other side it will damage the economy, leaving limited budgets for the hospitals.

7. What is the future roadmap for your company?

Medico is targeting 500 clinics by the end of the year. Medico will have a second product – telemedicine which can be used by any doctor and not just the ones working in hospitals. Medico is planning to launch an app for patient’s personal health records. The company plans to build an ecosystem that can support an extension of healthcare accessibility and patient control and management to more Indonesians.

VerbatimMedico hopes the government, medical workers, healthcare providers, and patients alike will see the importance of using technology as a foundation and not as an afterthought. As technology has been proven to upgrade healthcare accessibility, clinical care and cost savings. “

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