Prudential Corporation Asia (Prudential) today released The Pulse of Asia – The Health of Asia Barometer, a report written by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) which underscores the unprecedented opportunity offered by digital health technologies to improve access to healthcare in Asia.
The research, which explores attitudes to healthcare in Asia, highlights the demand for tools and services to help people in the region better navigate the healthcare system. It also highlights the opportunity for governments to partner with the private sector to maximize the potential of digital healthcare.
High rates of digital health technology adoption
The report, which surveyed 5,000 adults across 13 markets in Asia, found that only around half of respondents (54%) believe that medical care is accessible and affordable. More concerningly, less than a quarter (22%) say they can easily access exercise and fitness facilities that would help improve their personal health and wellness in the coming year.
However, the Asia-wide research also underlines the potential of technology to directly combat these challenges. Over four fifths (81%) of respondents say technology has already improved their access to health services and nearly two thirds (60%) believe that it has improved the affordability.
And this consumer appetite towards the digitization of health shows no sign of abating – three years from now 71% of those surveyed said they will rely on technology even more heavily to improve their personal health and wellbeing.
In Thailand, 88% of respondents said they are currently using personal health technologies, including blood pressure monitors, smart watches and wearable fitness trackers. These findings indicate that the majority of Thai people are concerned about their health, with digital technologies playing a significant role in helping them proactively manage it. However, the cost of such technologies and concerns over the time needed to use them were cited as potential barriers in their application.
Public-private action to improve healthcare
To fulfil the potential of digital healthcare, the EIU report recommends greater public-private collaboration – suggesting that governments partner with private companies to deliver digitally-innovative ways to promote and manage health and wellness among citizens.
The report also highlights the opportunity for governments to improve public health information through digital channels. According to the research, social media is the most frequently cited source of personal health and wellness information. However, the survey respondents overwhelmingly agreed that the most trustworthy sources are national government and public health authorities. Governments can seize the opportunity by becoming the most reliable source of quality health information for citizens.
The report also recommends that governments look to promote connected health devices, but that these need to be underpinned by strict data governance. Data security will enable health data to be safely centralized, empowering governments to design better policies and build more targeted healthcare infrastructure.
Nic Nicandrou, Chief Executive of Prudential Corporation Asia, commented: “This ground-breaking research demonstrates that while Asia has already begun to embrace digital health technologies, the region is still some way from realising the full potential technology has to offer. The private and public sectors need to come together to make these opportunities a reality, and in doing so, improve health and wellness outcomes for individuals.”
“Making digital healthcare a reality is an integral part of our efforts at Prudential. Through our app, Pulse by Prudential, we have linked up with partners at the forefront of innovation to deliver health information and guidance, as well as access provide access to medical professionals. Our goal in doing this is to enable people to live well, for longer.”
Charles Ross, Editorial Director from the EIU, commented: “Our research shows that to make health and wellbeing more accessible and affordable, the public and private sectors need to come together to seize the initiative. A key way to do this is by breaking down ‘data silos’ between disparate healthcare services and creating secure connections between health apps, devices and centralized digital patient records.”