Everton and Jon visiting a hospital in Asia

Current Healthcare IT Trends in Asia

We recently had the privilege of attending the HIMSS AsiaPac19 conference in Thailand. While there, we met with several health systems and traveled to South Korea as well. As we visit with providers around the world, we see that they are encountering problems similar to those we see in healthcare in the US, Europe, and even the Middle East.

Trends in Southeast Asia

At the conference, we were able to meet with people from countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Southeast Asia is perhaps years behind where the US is considering how many health systems still use homegrown solutions. The US moved away from homegrown solutions about 10 years ago because so many health systems could not keep up with maintenance.

A lot of providers in Southeast Asia leverage homegrown solutions until they feel like they can make a jump to a cheaper (and probably cloud-based) option. The desire to get away from developing homegrown solutions has not yet hit the Southeast Asia market quite as much as other markets. That is partly because development talent is not as expensive in that area. So from a resource standpoint, homegrown solutions are not as expensive.

That being said, providers in Southeast Asia are moving in a different direction. Some health systems are coming to the realization that they cannot do it all, and they don’t want to customize as much. They want to move to new solutions, but they are waiting until they find solutions that make financial sense for them. One hospital we talked to in the Philippines took a long time to decide on a solution because switching was too costly, and they did not have the money. They did finally pull the trigger, but we think their vendor gave them a great deal.

The potential for change in this region is enormous. Drastic change might not happen this next year, but the area is only going to continue adopting new technology. The area will likely leapfrog the client-server model and move to relatively inexpensive cloud-hosted solutions.

Trends in South Korea

The larger South Korean hospitals are more sophisticated and largely digital, but they want to take things to the smart-hospital level. They want to leverage robotics, AI, and voice recognition. There are some barriers to the latter: Korean voice recognition faces challenges because current tools recognize around only 20% of Korean words as opposed to 90% of English words.

These hospitals also wanted more mobile applications—a trend that is pretty global. We hear about mobile functionality a lot, and providers all over the world are talking about it. They want it, but nobody has really delivered it yet or even figured it out. And there are some regulatory limitations that are preventing progress.

One Korean hospital we visited had a command center in which they could monitor all the patients in the hospital, which was pretty cool and innovative. They also had a lot of kiosks to improve the patient experience during check-in and to give the patients all the details they would need right off the bat. The desire to improve patient engagement is a global desire.

The Global Arch Collaborative

Many providers in China, Korea, and Southeast Asia were keen to know how to implement and optimize their own digital health solutions and were very interested in the Arch Collaborative findings we shared. Southeast Asia and South Korea may be very different in terms of their technological progress, but that just shows that it does not really matter where health systems are in their digital journeys. The findings within the Arch Collaborative can apply to almost any system, which is incredible.