- Telehealth is in the spotlight as the global public health crisis accelerated demand for contactless and virtual medical treatments.
- Innovative technologies in healthcare have contributed significantly to improving patient care, presenting growth opportunities in medical technology (medtech) and digital health companies.
Telehealth on the rise
Telehealth, a case of technology meeting healthcare, has become trendy in recent years.
In Singapore, hospitals, clinics and telecommunications companies have been increasingly shifting medical services to patients’ homes, including the provision of rehabilitation therapy. Since the start of the global public health crisis, 95% of physicians have increased their use of virtual technology in their interactions with patients, reducing patients’ and clinicians’ risk of exposure and infection.
Remote patient monitoring and self-diagnostics, and trials of hybrid online-and-offline models are bringing new care models for patients amid accelerating investments in digital health, according to a McKinsey & Co. report. The total venture capital investment into the digital health space stood at US$14.7 billion in 1H 2021, compared with investment of US$14.6 billion for the whole of 2020, and nearly twice the investment of US$7.7 billion in 2019.
Additionally, structural trends of an ageing population, exponential increase in expenditure and the need for better efficiencies in the healthcare system are presenting long-term investment growth opportunities for the medtech industry.
Adding a robotics touch
Medical organisations are increasingly harnessing smart technologies to accelerate efficiencies, reduce unnecessary treatments and improve preventive care.
For example, there is an emerging trend where some medtech companies have started to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies when designing and upgrading surgical robots, allowing for greater precision during surgical operations. In some instances, this is resulting in shorter patient recovery time. In addition to AI innovation in diagnostics and surgery, advanced technologies in healthcare also provide investment exposure to medical devices.
Taking more steps a day
Additionally, supportive government initiatives such as using big data in smart healthcare – storing the residents’ lifelong health records in an encrypted format shared by private and public hospitals – could improve the healthcare service quality and have given the medtech industry a boost.
Smart technologies have also started to integrate in the way people live. The Singapore government has a physical activity programme, the “National Steps Challenge” to promote healthy living. With step-trackers, residents are encouraged to walk more than 10,000 steps a day. Since its launch in November 2015, 70% of previously inactive participants have now averaged more than 7,000 steps per day, with 30% of participants clocking about 10,000 steps a day on average.
The demand for telehealth, innovative AI technologies and medical devices is accelerating after the global public health crisis. This rising demand is also driven by structural trends such as an increasingly ageing population in many major economies. Governments are also increasingly adopting innovative technologies to improve healthcare efficiencies and quality. Innovating medtech companies are thus presenting investors with exposure to long-term growth opportunities in the industry.