Kopi Chat Deep Dive: Is Digital Health a cultural or technological transformation of healthcare?

Bite-sized wisdom from Kopi Chat Deep Dive: Digital Health

From shelves of consumer wearables to scores of innovative applications promoting healthy habits, digital healthcare is now increasingly accessible to the average consumer across communities around the world. The rise of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence has also significantly boosted the capabilities of on-demand healthcare. With the right data and right technology, digital health can lead the much-needed transformation in this new age of healthcare. However, are humans really ready for this change?

Janice Chia (Top Left), Andrew Wu (Bottom Left), Moderator: Lui Yong Kit (Top Right) & Dr. Peter Kwan (Bottom Right)

To answer this question, we assembled a panel of health experts to join us in discussing the social, ethical, and legal challenges that plague healthtech solutions in the market today. They are:

Janice Chia, Founder & Managing Director of Ageing Asia

Janice has accumulated her vast experience from visiting over 400 residential and aged care homes from over 15 countries. Since 2009, she has been actively involved in consulting organisations seeking global best practices in housing, health, and care models that can be translated for the Asian market. Janice is also quoted regularly in the media, such as the BBC, on Asia Pacific business trends in ageing.

Dr. Peter Kwan, Founder of Pacific Gateway Capital Group LLC & Startup-mentor of NUS Suzhou Research Institute

Peter offers over thirty years of experience in joint venture management and market entry consultancy for multi-national companies in China, including companies such as SmithKline Beecham Limited, Bayer AG, and American Home Products. As the founder of Pacific Gateway Capital Limited, Peter works to build business relationships with companies beyond China, investing in foreign companies and building connections across the pacific.

Andrew Wu, Co-founder & CEO of Mesh Bio

Dr. Andrew Wu was previously Chief Operating Officer of Clearbridge Biomedics (now known as Biolidics) where he developed innovative cancer diagnostics technology in the field of liquid biopsy. He was also Chief Product Officer of Clearbridge Health. Both companies are now listed on SGX Catalist. Prior to Clearbridge, Andrew was Technical Director for CordLife, managing the laboratory operations and clinical affairs for the group.

Moderator: Lui Yong Kit, Programme Manager for BLOCK71 Singapore

Lui Yong Kit is the current programme manager of BLOCK71 Singapore, an initiative by NUS Enterprise in collaborative and strategic partnerships with established corporates and government agencies. Before NUS, Yong Kit had stints as a C-suite of a regional startup, Asia’s representative for a Dutch Venture Capital, as well as a mentor at a regional Fintech accelerator.

Here are 5 key takeaways from the productive session:

1. Digital health data should be carefully collected with a clear objective in mind.

In this data economy, healthtech companies frequently compete over obtaining large amounts of data. While data is undoubtedly important, Peter feels that what people do with the data should be the main focus. Instead of worrying about data collection, he thinks that more attention should be given to identifying real problems and noting down clear objectives.

2. Human doctors are necessary in our mission to digitalise healthcare.

Despite rapid advances in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the future of digital health still rests on the shoulders of human doctors. In her experience working with the elderly, Janice observed that many seniors have a hard time accepting digital transformations in their healthcare routines. As such, it is important to be patient and enlist the help of healthcare professionals to provide people with the best care possible.

3. Predictive analytics will be a defining trend.

Every year, billions of dollars are spent treating non-communicable diseases. Instead of tackling health problems only when they arise, Andrew believes it’s smarter and more cost-efficient to invest in predictive analytics in healthcare. By combining analytics with early preventive care, cardiovascular diseases could be easily avoided. To achieve this dream, Andrew is now diligently working on a solution that will predict cardiometabolic diseases years before their onset.

4. It is important to practise ethical handling of health data.

While health monitoring is important in providing customised healthcare, protecting the privacy and dignity of patients is just as important. The recent introduction of wearable devices and monitoring systems into our lives has impacted our mental health in ways that are not visible to the human eye. As such, ethical concerns surrounding digital health are just as crucial in our fight for better, accessible healthcare.

5. There is a cultural gap in our acceptance of digital health.

The existence of the east-west cultural divide has long been debated in academia and mainstream media. Peter, our resident global citizen with experience working in both the United States and China, has observed this divide in our acceptance of digital health between the two countries. For this reason, we must remind ourselves to be aware of cultural differences when encouraging people to adopt digital health solutions.

To find out more about start-up incubation at BLOCK71 Singapore, please visit: https://singapore.block71.co/

If you are keen on entrepreneurship and technology, check out similar events on the NUS Enterprise website: https://enterprise.nus.edu.sg/

NUS Enterprise nurtures entrepreneurial talents with global mindsets, while advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at Asia’s leading university.

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