Sumitomo Corporation, a Japanese trading firm, will invest in a major healthcare intermediary in Vietnam with the goal of launching new digital services in a region where costs are growing and there is uneven access to doctors.
According to a report by Nikkei Asia, Sumitomo is expected to invest tens of millions of dollars in Vietnamâ€™s Insmart to capitalise on the regionâ€™s growing managed-care industry.
In Southeast Asian countries with underdeveloped public healthcare systems, private health insurance is the norm. Managed-care organisations act as go-betweens for insurers and medical institutions, as well as offering services to patients. With 1.5 million customers, Insmart controls 60 per cent of the managed-care market in Vietnam.
Demand for managed-care services to help contain rising medical expenses is predicted to expand substantially as Southeast Asiaâ€™s population grows. In Vietnam, the market is expected to grow by more than 20 per cent a yaer while in Malaysia it will grow by more than 10 per cent.
Managed-care organisations assist insurers with duties such as determining whether medical expenses are reasonable.
Sumitomo intends to enhance the appâ€™s capabilities to include telemedicine, medication counselling, and drug delivery. Sumitomo intends to purchase shares from Insmartâ€™s founder as well as additional stock, and will consider changing the company from an affiliate to a subsidiary in the future.
According to a report by KPMG Vietnam, Vietnam is well-positioned to adopt digital health solutions. Some of the most notable examples include consumer health electronics like high-tech wearables and telehealth such as remote health diagnostics, monitoring, intervention, and education.
The application of telehealth will play an important role in supporting the diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases across the population. However, this poses a challenge for the lower income groups with less access to technological advances, particularly those in remote, underdeveloped, or rural areas. To attain universal health coverage for the entire population, further government support and policy incentives will be required.