Healthcare industry is showing significant interest in telehealth technologies as they possess an ability to address the industry’s challenges. A recent report by Frost & Sullivan, Telehealth Opportunities in APAC, finds increasing opportunities in the telehealth sector in Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The market witnessed a good turnover with mHealth (text, voice, and other mobile services), real-time telemedicine, and remote patient monitoring equipment generating revenues worth US $7.9 billion, $44.6 million, and $773.5 million, respectively, in 2012.
With government involvement being the most significant factor for the telehealth industry in this region, the study reports partnering with government institutions to be the largest opportunity for software vendors, private information, communication and technology (ICT) infrastructure companies, and device manufacturers. Natasha Gulati, Healthcare Industry Analyst for Frost & Sullivan, said that governments are and would continue to be the chief architects of the telehealth industry throughout the APAC.
A broad range of initiatives have been undertaken by the government in this region including funds and grants, legislations that endorse or establish telehealth and, pilot projects. With consumer demands and not technological innovation or profits defining business models in APAC, unlike in Europe and US, private companies are finding it hard to develop business models that ensure long-term profits even after government funding is discontinued.
In order to establish sustainable business model and enter new markets, ICT companies are partnering with medical device producers. They aim to offer comprehensive telehealth solutions that cater to a wide range of customer requirements like telemedicine, remote care, and enterprise mobility.
While ICT companies aim to diversify their business, healthcare firms, especially medical device producers seek to add on to their value proposition by investing in telehealth services and offerings. In order to get business from large hospital groups (private and public), telehealth companies need to demonstrate considerable return of investment (ROI) and convey the value proposition of advanced communication tools in healthcare. According to Natasha Gulati, service, equipment, and infrastructure companies need to invest in creating an ecosystem of telehealth offerings that can be deployed by care providers as a whole as it would enhance vendor profitability and facilitate better ROI for care providers.
Further substantiating this is another 2012 report from ReportsNReports, which attributes the growth in telehealth market in the APAC region to the increased awareness about its potential to broaden the reach of affordable care. Additionally, Indian and Chinese government have also been reported to be rapidly adopting and promoting telehealth for meeting the demands of their massive rural population.
Though the above report finds the telehealth market to be currently dominated by the US, significant growth is also foreseen in the APAC region. From being $2 billion in 2011, APAC’s contribution to global telemedicine and telehealth market is estimated to almost quadruple by 2018 and reach about $8 billion. While APAC compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 21%, European and US markets are predicted to rise only at 13% and 12%, respectively.