Global Health Asia-Pacific Special Issue - Page 82

Feature
That need is being fulfilled differently across the Asia-Pacific region . Digitally native companies are racing into markets where primary care is limited . In China , for example , more than half of consumers prefer a digital touchpoint , an increase of 23 percentage points since our last report . Virtual touchpoints also gained significant ground in Indonesia .
Figure 5 . Telehealth adoption increased dramatically and is expected to continue growing throughout the region
Figure 6 . Telemedicine adoption nearly doubled among physicians
Figure 7 . Physicians believe more consultations could be delivered virtually
In mature healthcare markets like Singapore and Australia , consumers favor physical clinic visits as their primary touchpoint . Their preference for in-person care increased during the pandemic . Eighty percent of Australians prefer physical visits today , compared to just 67 % in 2019 .
In these markets , digital healthcare isn ’ t replacing established systems ; rather , it ’ s enabling more connected , hybrid experiences . Integrated offline-to-online models have the potential to deliver better patient experiences while optimizing cost and efficiencies for care providers .
New , tech-enabled healthcare norms Since our last report , telehealth adoption soared , exceeding both consumer and caregiver predictions . Before the pandemic , about half of consumers said they expected to use digital health tools within the next five years . Now , just as many consumers have already used telehealth .
In the countries we surveyed , telehealth usage essentially doubled since 2019 — except in Australia , where adoption increased ninefold . All Asia-Pacific consumers expect telehealth usage to continue rising through 2024 ( see Figure 5 ).
Safety risks related to Covid-19 initially encouraged the growth of telehealth . Consumers are now adopting telehealth more broadly due to its efficiency and time savings . Offline providers and pharmacies were also difficult to access during the pandemic .
Consumers reported using telehealth to manage ongoing and chronic care , access acute and emergent care , and seek second opinions . Two-thirds of consumers are comfortable visiting “ any physician ”— not just their primary care provider — to manage all or part of their healthcare digitally .
Physicians were enthusiastic about telehealth , too ; their adoption nearly doubled since 2019 ( see Figure 6 ). About 60 % of physicians said they preferred virtual visits over face-to-face interactions due to safety reasons during the pandemic . Fiftysix percent of physicians said more than 25 % of their primary consultations could be delivered virtually by 2024 ( see Figure 7 ).
Evolution continues Healthcare delivery rapidly evolved in the region . The pandemic accelerated innovation plans for providers and increased consumers ’ propensity to engage with new delivery models . Many consumers who used digital channels for safety reasons during the pandemic will continue telehealth practices out of convenience .
Telehealth was considered experimental in 2019 and is now a normal and accepted channel for care in most countries . Government acceptance was a barrier to telemedicine before the pandemic , but one that ’ s beginning to wane . While regulatory restrictions persist in some countries , the pandemic shifted many government attitudes . In some countries , government actions are even supporting and progressing telemedicine . The Australian government temporarily added Medicare Benefits Schedule ( MBS ) items to support phone and video consultations with existing patients during the pandemic . In India , the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare deployed a national doctor-to-patient telemedicine system called eSanjeevani .
Through telehealth , everyone may be able to “ have it all .” Payers and providers can lower costs , patient engagement and convenience can increase , and more populations can gain access to quality healthcare .
80 ISSUE 6 | 2022 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com