So, what factors constitute demand? Is it population growth? A rise in GDP? Supply? Well, it is safe to say that there isn’t a definitive answer to this as there are so many other factors that can contribute to product and service demand. With this in mind, half of the world’s population lives in the Asia Pacific region. This means that the demand for healthcare will continue to rise exponentially. But there are various obstacles and challenges the med-tech companies in Asia must overcome to meet the region’s healthcare demands. Some of these would include limited financial resources, underdeveloped healthcare infrastructure that continues to affect tech adoption, and intense competition from developing countries. As you can see, a lot has to be done to mitigate the impact of med-tech in Asia.
Nonetheless, it’s expected that by 2020, Asia will surpass the expectations of healthcare consumers. But this will depend on the political stability in most of the Asia Pacific countries, economic development, research, and a better understanding of disease profiles. This will help in the development of market-appropriate healthcare technology by first overcoming the structural barriers that have for the longest time hindered technology adoption.
That being a snippet of what this article is about, let’s take a look at the possible technology to trend in Asia.
As opposed to injections and pills, wearable patches are increasingly becoming popular around the world (in Asia included) as an alternative means of drug delivery. Today, they’re also being used in disease diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy. For instance, nicotine transdermal patches, which are used in nicotine replacement therapy have been around for quite a while. What’s more, patches are heavily gaining popularity in the supplement market. Today, you will find patches for vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, anti-viral, PMS, and even hangover patches.
Dr. Earl Hayley, PatchMD.com CEO, points out that the best thing about topical patches is that they are easy to use and the active ingredients are easily absorbed through the skin and since the active substance doesn’t pass through the gut, they have a higher bioavailability. This makes them a more effective alternative than their pill counterparts, more convenient, and less invasive compared to injections. And considering how Asia is popular for Ayurveda medicine as well as nutritional supplements, there’s a big chance the wearable patch market will be explosive over the next few years as research studies on their various uses finalize.
Soon, the Asian med-tech industry will shift its efforts towards surgical robotics. This will help to reach patients living in the most desolate areas in providing them with better treatment options. Medical robots will also help in transporting and delivering medical supplies, helping with prosthetics and prosthetics trials, and disinfecting hospitals, including microbots that will target specific areas, especially during cancer treatment. But then again, more needs to be done in raising awareness and sensitizing the masses about the benefits of robotics and what these engineered beings could bring to the table as far as the healthcare industry is concerned.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
As most sectors of the Asian economy continue to adopt AI, the healthcare industry is also expecting to develop artificial intelligence devices that will help in information processing, diagnosis, and treatment. These AI machines will be expected to make split decisions using information from patient history, test results, and imaging analysis, etc. AI technology is expected to help improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis. The use of AI will also help in the early detection of diseases, thus helping treat diseases before they even emerge. The Asian healthcare industry is also looking to incorporate AI in most online-based healthcare platforms. This will help to provide relevant answers to online healthcare consumers.
Unlike human intelligence, AI has the capability to take in large volumes of data and the best part is that unless interfered with, this data can be preserved for a long time. In addition to this, it will help to eliminate human errors in healthcare services. The Asian healthcare industry is looking to use AI technology in the following areas:
- Diagnosis – As earlier mentioned, AI holds the keys to transforming how medical diagnosis has for the longest time been carried out. This will see improved speed and accuracy in diagnosis as well as in data analysis. Data collected from diagnostic testing done electronically, electronic medical records, and imaging will help to better understand a patient’s health status.
- Development of better healthcare products – Development of healthcare products is a process that takes a lot of time and in addition to this, it’s an expensive process altogether. AI can analyze large volumes of data within a short duration of time. Investing in AI technology will be expensive, but in the long run, it will help to cut the expenses associated with the development of healthcare products.
- Improving workflow – Asia is looking to incorporate AI technology in the hospital service delivery. This will help to improve service delivery, improve efficiency in the most repetitive tasks such as data entry, scheduling, reimbursement coding, and other burdensome administrative tasks. This will allow healthcare providers to be more focused on providing quality healthcare services.
The increasing Asian population is now challenging the healthcare industry because, for starters, most hospitals are short-staffed. Access to healthcare providers is now limited, a challenge that could be solved by telemedicine. Patients in underserved communities will now access Medicare through the internet. This will help to save time and resources while providing access to better diagnosis and treatment. With the advent of mobile technology, it will be easy to send electronic medical history records to specialists for better analysis, diagnosis, and treatment.
Most developed countries have already incorporated 3D printing into their healthcare services and are now experiencing the benefits of such innovations. Asia is will soon include 3D printing in the healthcare industry as an innovative step that will help to improve medical research and product testing. In addition to this, it will also help to improve transplant services and prosthetics. Rather than use humans or animals in product testing, bio-printed objects could become the new guinea pigs.
As the world of healthcare technology keeps evolving, the expectations for better patient experience will continue to increase and Asia is no exception. The above medical technology trends in Asia will help to improve the quality of care and improve workflow efficiency in hospitals. But this will not be possible if the existing adoption challenges are not dealt with.