In this TNGlobal Q&A with Lim Wai Mun, the Founder and CEO of Doctor Anywhere, he explores how various facets of how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is shaping the healthcare industry. Lim elaborated on how AI has revolutionized healthcare by optimizing various processes, notably by reducing consultation times and enhancing patient experiences. He cited how Doctor Anywhere has effectively utilized AI to offer smart prescription filling and personalized health recommendations, which have significantly improved patient recovery and long-term well-being.

Lim also delved into the challenges and intricacies of adapting AI strategies to suit different markets, especially in a diverse region like Southeast Asia. The hurdles include not only the need for high-quality healthcare data to train algorithms but also the customization of user interfaces to suit varying languages and cultural norms. Additionally, Lim emphasized the critical role of data security and privacy, revealing that end-to-end encryption, regulated access controls, and regular security audits are integral measures in ensuring the safety of patient data. He further outlined how AI could change the landscape of healthcare by aiding diagnostics, powering virtual health assistants, and employing predictive analytics, among other advancements.

Lim Wai Mun, Founder & CEO, Doctor Anywhere

How is Artificial Intelligence revolutionizing healthcare services, particularly in terms of reducing consultation times and enhancing patient experiences?

Artificial Intelligence is spearheading a healthcare revolution by optimizing processes, improving diagnostics, and providing personalized care. It addresses the global healthcare workforce shortage by automating tasks, freeing professionals to concentrate on patient outcomes.

For Doctor Anywhere, AI has enabled us to significantly reduce consultation times through smart prescription filling and personalized health recommendations for patients, improving both their short-term recovery and long-term well-being.

In your experience, how do healthtech companies adapt their AI strategies to suit different markets, and what challenges are commonly encountered in this industry?

Southeast Asia is among the world’s most diverse regions, accompanied by unique healthcare ecosystems, regulations, cultural factors, and patient needs in each country.

Localizing a broad AI strategy in each market comes with complexities that include building a pool of high-quality healthcare data to train the algorithm, adapting these and user interfaces to suit different languages and cultures, which is crucial for effective communication with patients and healthcare providers. Maintaining a cohesive AI strategy with varied levels of adoption can thus be a challenge in delivering a unified approach toward AI.

Given privacy regulations, especially pertaining to health records, what general measures are healthtech platforms taking to mitigate the risks of data leaks and to ensure the privacy and security of health data in the context of AI?

Given the sensitivity of patient data, the healthcare sector adopts a cautious approach to new innovations, digitalisation included. However, the shift from traditional, paper-based records to digitalised, electronic patient records has been necessary to enable a more holistic patient view for better outcomes.

Fundamental to digital healthcare is security by design, where new innovations, solutions are built from the onset with security and patient privacy in mind, rather than as an afterthought.

This encompasses measures such as end-to-end encryption in securing data, regulating access controls and multi-factor authentication mechanisms to restrict data access solely to authorised personnel.

In addition, meticulously structuring the platform’s development and operations to safeguard patient information, regular security audits and assessments to identify vulnerabilities and take swift corrective actions when necessary. Training, regular audits to ensure compliance with local data protection and privacy regulations is also a fundamental aspect, even as we leverage AI and data analytics to enhance the delivery of better care.

Can you discuss upcoming AI-based features or services that you see as potential game-changers in the healthtech industry?

While AI has seen good uptake across the healthcare sector, it has mainly been used for administrative tasks and patient scheduling, with limited but growing use in the diagnostics and clinical arena.

AI will continue to be a transformative force, such as enabling healthcare professionals with greater accuracy and speed in diagnostics, AI-powered virtual health assistants for personalized health advice, and even predictive analytics to identify high-risks demographics and elevate population health.

These advancements can crucially help advance the aim of improving patient care, reducing healthcare costs, and revolutionizing the way healthcare is delivered and managed.

What predictions can you make about key AI trends that are poised to have a significant impact on the healthcare sector in the upcoming year?

Globally, the healthcare industry faces a severe manpower crunch, even as the demand for high-quality care continues to grow exponentially. 

Leveraging AI to ease the workloads of healthcare providers through automation, intelligent monitoring, and data analytics are some key areas. The healthcare sector will also increasingly prioritize upskilling and training its staff in digital healthcare, AI, and emerging technologies, which will enable them to provide high-quality care to a greater number of patients, despite the limited manpower.

What changes do you anticipate in the healthtech landscape, and what areas should stakeholders be most attentive to?

As individuals increasingly become more interested and take action to secure their long-term health, healthtech players will need to meet evolving consumer expectations. In particular, the ability to provide holistic, accessible, and personalized solutions will be a key differentiator.

We’ve seen a fundamental shift of individuals seeking an all-encompassing solution to their health, and the ability to track, manage, and chart their health journey.

It’s a key driving factor that has seen Doctor Anywhere’s evolution beyond a telehealth provider – today we seek to enable individuals across the entire healthcare continuum with services that span primary care, specialist care, telehealth services, preventive health services, and a health and wellness marketplace. 

Can you share some case studies that showcase how technology–particularly recent trends like AI–is making an impact on the healthcare industry?

  • IBM Watson for Oncology: An AI-powered platform that helped augment clinical decision-making and treatment plan recommendations for oncologists,
  • Philips’ IntelliSpace AI Workflow Suite (India): AI has helped enhance radiology workflow efficiency in prioritizing and analyzing medical images, thus reducing reporting turnaround times and improving patient care. This technology has the potential to address the shortage of radiologists in India.

Could you share what topics are catching your interest at industry events like Tech Week Singapore, and why they should matter to those involved in healthtech?

Some topics of interest include Generative AI, digital innovation in a cloud-native world, and evolving business models in a fast-evolving digital future.

Even as the world grapples with healthcare challenges like chronic diseases, aging populations, and the shortage of manpower, the demand for high-quality healthcare will only grow and compound these challenges. 

Tackling these requires healthtech players to go beyond a solutions-based approach, even as they improve patient care, drive efficiency, maintain security and compliance, and stay competitive in a rapidly evolving digital healthcare landscape. Building awareness and capabilities in these technologies and strategies can help address current healthcare challenges and anticipate future healthcare needs.

Telehealth and online pharmacies are leading the growth in the healthcare industry, says Doctor Anywhere’s Lim Wai Mun [Q&A]