Doctor Anywhere expanding in SE Asia's booming healthtech market with $65 mil. funding

06, Sep. 2021

Lim Wai Mun, founder and CEO of Doctor Anywhere, aims to grow the company to be the largest tech-enabled omnichannel healthcare provider in Southeast Asia. (Photo: Doctor Anywhere)
Lim Wai Mun, founder and CEO of Doctor Anywhere, aims to grow the company to be the largest tech-enabled omnichannel healthcare provider in Southeast Asia. (Photo: Doctor Anywhere)

By Celine Chen

SINGAPORE NNA - Targeting further growth, Doctor Anywhere (DA), a regional tech-driven healthcare startup headquartered in Singapore, has raised $65.7 million in its Series C financing round, led by growth equity investor Asia Partners.

The financing, which also attracted investors like Novo Holdings, Philips, and OSK-SBI Venture Partners, is believed to be one of the largest private-funding rounds ever raised by a healthtech company in Southeast Asia where the telehealth market has seen a growth spurt last year because of pandemic lockdowns and accelerated digitalization.

Existing investors, which also supported the latest financing, include Singapore-based global investor EDBI, Square Peg, IHH Healthcare, Kamet Capital and Pavilion Capital.

It has brought the total capital raised by Doctor Anywhere (DA) to more than $104 million.

Since its launch in 2017, DA has grown exponentially to serve more than 1.5 million users across Southeast Asia today. Operating an omnichannel business model with a seamless combination of online and onsite services, it is currently available in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The group recently announced the establishment of regional tech hubs in Bangalore, India, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to support its expansion.

"Over the past 18 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has also served as a catalyst to fast-track the adoption of telehealth services in the region, an innovation which enabled the healthcare industry to continue providing high-quality, affordable care to families through the crisis," said DA in a press release on August 31.

Lim Wai Mun, DA founder and CEO, said: “DA’s mission is to be the largest tech-enabled omnichannel healthcare provider in Southeast Asia, and applying innovative technology to improving patient outcomes is core to our differentiated offerings. We are thrilled to attract the interest of a strong group of investors in this round, a significant milestone which is a testament to our vision and track record.”

DA has built a strong ecosystem across its core markets with partnerships with leading brands across consumer healthcare and insurance industries.

It works closely with major hospitals and healthcare institutions and boasts a network of 2,800 doctors and medical professionals to serve patients.

This latest investment will significantly bolster DA’s market leadership and its expansion to new markets, said the company.

Lim added, “We will utilize this funding to further enhance our digital capabilities, and scale up on our ability to deliver quality healthcare seamlessly to our users in Southeast Asia.”

“We are deeply impressed by what Wai Mun and his team have accomplished in such a short period of time,” said Oliver M. Rippel, a co-founder of Asia Partners.

“As our region’s leading omnichannel healthcare innovator, DA is helping the healthcare industry rise to the occasion for the challenges and opportunities in the decade ahead," he added.

Rippel and Amit Kakar, senior partner and head of Novo Holdings Equity Asia, will join DA’s board of directors.

Kakar said, "The pandemic accelerated a trend that was already gaining traction – the delivery of high quality, cost effective and highly accessible healthcare through digital means, regardless of where the patients are located. DA offers a leading approach to combining the online and offline realms of healthcare through an omnichannel strategy, bringing the delivery of patient care to the next level of tech-led healthcare."

Kien T. Nguyen, a co-founder of Asia Partners, noted how DA has followed the "proven regionalization playbook of Southeast Asia’s first generation of internet platform companies" to shape up as a "true regional leader in omnichannel healthcare".

"The powerful combination of telehealth and offline care is deeply compelling to payers, providers, and patients across our region of 650 million people, and DA is leading the way,” said Nguyen.

DA's virtual clinic is a digital platform that enables patients to access medical assistance on-demand anytime, without having to leave their home, whilst its offline platform provides users with access to GP clinics and mobile healthcare services.

Its services cover a wide spectrum of acute and chronic conditions in both adults and children, home-based health screenings and vaccinations, medication access and distribution, and COVID-19 testing. Also available are mental wellness support, and nutrition and fitness counselling.

Kakar said the latest investment is Novo Holdings Equity Asia's fourth in Asia this year as it grows its portfolio of telemedicine and digital health platforms. It also illustrates Singapore's position as the leading telehealth hub in the region, he added,

According to Grand View Research, the Southeast Asia telehealth market was valued at $194.5 million in 2020. It is expected to soar at a compound annual growth rate of 17.6 percent from 2021 to 2028.

Indonesia is dominating the market with key players like Haldoc and Alodokter. The country accounted for the largest revenue share of 25.2 percent in 2020, owing to the widespread adoption of telehealth services amidst the raging pandemic.

Key players in the region include GrabHealth, MyDoc, Doctor Anywhere, TeleMe, Good Doctor Technology, DoctorOnCall, Alodokter and ClicknCare.

Surging penetration of the internet with the adoption of smartphones and tablets in the region have made accessing telehealth services more convenient, said Grand View in its study.

Users are increasingly aware of the importance of monitoring health and fitness to control the incidence of chronic ailments and are using their smartphones to track their condition.

In addition, innovators are designing technologies to deliver quality care through various web and cloud-based platforms, said the research firm.

For instance, DOC2US, a telehealth provider in Malaysia, has partnered with AIA Malaysia to offer virtual assistance through the AIA app.

App users can use DOC2US services such as text messaging or video consultation with healthcare professionals. For patients in remote locations, it can eliminate the need to visit healthcare facilities and reduce unnecessary costs, said Grand View.

It said, "The emergence of the internet of things in healthcare with integrated analytics, advanced wearable devices, and strong mobile connectivity has significantly transformed the healthcare industry and has enabled efficient patient monitoring, optimizing prescriptions, and chronic disease management."

Furthermore, deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) functions have helped to enhance the "personalization" and quality of healthcare.

For instance, Indonesia's telehealth platform Haldoc uses AI to provide its physicians with feedback on their performance as well as consultation and training to improve their service.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has burdened regional healthcare systems and is anticipated to drive the demand for telehealth services further.

In the midst of lockdowns and movement restrictions, patients have turned to telemedicine for convenience and fear of contracting the deadly virus.

Insurance companies and key healthtech players are also collaborating to provide free consultations to their customers.

Haldoc recorded a ten-fold increase in the number of active users in 2020 in Indonesia, reported Grand View.

To ease the strain on overburdened health facilities, regional governments like Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand have rolled out telehealth programs too.

The worsening shortage of healthcare personnel across Southeast Asia will also push the demand for telemedicine services, Grand View added.

Mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, and collaborative agreements among key players are expected to propel the telehealth growth in the region.

For instance, Singapore-based specialist platform Oncoshot has partnered with MyDoc, a regional player, to provide cancer patients with access to second opinions by leading oncologists.

In 2020, the web-based delivery mode segment dominated the market for telehealth in Southeast Asia, accounting for the largest revenue share of 47.2 percent owing to the availability of a large number of telehealth platforms and growing usage by patients and healthcare personnel, said Grand View.

The cloud-based delivery mode segment is expected to see the fastest growth rate in the coming years due to tech improvements like higher bandwidth, easy accessibility, easy data recovery and storage, and better data privacy and security.

Rising incidences of security breaches in web-based and on-premises applications have led to a spike in demand for cloud-based applications, noted Grand View.