Whenever, wherever, Good Doctor Technology is here to help with whatever’s ailing you
Covid accelerated digitalization in all areas of our lives, from shopping to education. And now when the pandemic is receding, many innovative sectors which it stimulated are still continuing to develop. A good example of this is telemedicine — the use of technology to diagnose and treat patients remotely. Telemedicine was first experienced by many in Thailand during the pandemic, but digitally enabled healthcare is proving to have long term usage beyond the Covid crisis. Mobile tele-health service providers believe that there is a place for them in the future, as large swathes of society are increasingly turning to digital health services the moment they feel unwell. Drawn by the added benefits of convenience and accessibility to quality health services at their fingertips, more and more Thais are recognising the value of telemedicine.
Good Doctor Technology Thailand (GDTT), a subsidiary company of a regional technology-backed and digital-first healthcare service provider, Good Doctor Technology (GDT), launched their digital health management mobile application in Thailand in 2021. Their health and wellness app includes telemedicine services, offers exclusive discounts on health and wellness products, and contains a library of health articles written and curated by their in-house, locally hired medical team. With its clinical automation systems in place, patients get connected to a live chat conversation with their in-house doctors within 60 seconds without prior appointment booking and receive a diagnosis and recommended treatment plan within 15 minutes.
Digitalisation of the most humane field
“Digital healthcare services can complement traditional healthcare services and increase the accessibility of doctors to patients in need,” explains Melvin Vu, Regional CEO of Good Doctor Technology (GDT). “Good Doctor Technology Thailand (GDTT) aims to continue ensuring that every family in Thailand has access to a family doctor while supporting the adoption of virtual health services both during the pandemic and beyond.”
Headquartered in Singapore, Good Doctor Technology (GDT) is a joint venture company between China’s leading one-stop healthcare services platform, Ping An Healthcare and Technology Company Limited and Grab Holdings Inc (“Grab”), the leading O2O platform in Southeast Asia, and Softbank Vision Fund. Established with a vision of providing ‘One Doctor for One Family in SEA’, they launched their operations in Indonesia in 2019 and was appointed by Grab as the official partner in rolling out the GrabHealth service. Despite entering an already saturated Indonesian market, Good Doctor Technology has quickly become the no. 2 virtual healthcare provider in the country. The company launched their operations in Thailand last year during the peak of COVID-19 infection waves, and within eight months Good Doctor Technology Thailand (GDTT) caught the attention of local health authorities such as the National Health Security Office (NHSO).
NHSO saw the potential of the technology used by GDTT to provide teleconsultation services and facilitate medicine deliveries to Covid patients. In August 2021 the company was officially accepted by NHSO to join the Home Isolation programme as a virtual healthcare service provider for asymptomatic Covid-19 patients and those experiencing mild symptoms. During the 14-day programme, each patient’s condition was monitored daily, their medication or medical device deliveries organised so that patients received their medication at their homes within the hour and facilitation of referral cases to hospitals within their network were handled at speed, when required by the patient.
To successfully deliver the right care at the right time to patients outside the hospital setting, GDTT connects with a network of pharmacies. This network has already reached more than 460 merchants across 45 provinces, and the company aims to double the number this year. During the NHSO programme, GDTT has served the largest number of Covid-19 patients in Pathum Wan District, and substantially contributed to increasing the accessibility of care and medication to those who require guided medical support.
“The pandemic has increased the adoption of telemedicine services in Thailand, therein lies the opportunity to improve effective primary care management in the long term,” says Melvin. “Through telemedicine and virtual care, we can deliver medical care to those in need, particularly in respect of supporting Covid-19 patients and ensuring that patients are managing their health in the best way possible. We’re using the latest technology to support Covid-19 and other patients on their journey to full recovery, from continuous virtual symptoms monitoring to hospital referrals.
Later this year Good Doctor Technology Thailand (GDTT) also became NHSO’s partner to deliver outpatient care to asymptomatic or mild symptoms Covid-19 patients through the “Meet, Give Away and Complete” programme. Patients with positive ATK test results could straight away get direct access to GDTT’s out-patient care, receiving medical consultations via the app and get their prescribed medicine delivered to them. This service was made available through a partnership arrangement with Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and its newly launched health and wellness centric SPRING UP mobile application which has a built-in online doctor’s consultation service delivered by GDTT.
“We only hire Thai general practitioners who are committed to providing virtual consultations exclusively via our telemedicine platform on a full-time basis and have vast experiences in handling patient consultations,” Melvin expands. “Our doctors are constantly updated on medical guidelines and treatment protocols and are required to undergo rigorous training and refresher courses followed by examinations in order to adhere to our best-in-class standards of care.”
Future proofing digital advances in healthcare
“Digital health platforms are the future,” Melvin asserts. “And they will become increasingly popular among health-conscious users. Awareness of health and health-related concerns has grown worldwide following the Covid-19 pandemic, and I firmly believe that telehealth is here to stay. The increasing reliance on telemedicine services is an important trend with promising long-term potential; it can provide patients with the highest convenience and quality of care. We are confident in our potential — GDT is powered by cutting-edge technologies that have been proven to address accessibility gaps of healthcare services in other Asian countries. Our doctors have access to Artificial Intelligence them to assist with diagnosis — this is an additional tool that are used to analyse patient’s symptoms. But of course human element is absolutely necessary in medicine — professional doctors can tell in what cases diagnosis via online consultation is difficult. For such patients offline consultations at GDTT clinic are available, and if the necessity arises, the doctor will refer the patient to the hospital — this is the unique feature of our online-to-offline patient care model.”
GDTT also built its first-in-Asia physical clinic in the heart of Bangkok city — at CRC Tower and — offering patients the option to continue their consultation from Online-to-Offline (O2O) to deliver a full patient care model by allowing to follow up with a physical consultation at the clinic if they require additional medical support after tele-consultation. Patients can physically visit the same doctor they consulted with virtually for added consistency and comfort. Seen this way, telemedicine is not a replacement for the existing healthcare ecosystem — it is a valuable complementary addition to it which enhances the potential of the system.
“Telemedicine is an effective alternative to providing primary care, including consultations, triage for many, though not all types of symptoms, recovery/maintenance, meds management, testing regime planning, follow-up, and ongoing consultation. Good Doctor Technology Thailand (GDTT)’s platform makes accessing these services quick, convenient, simple/user-friendly, and offers patients a high degree of service quality. It has a distinct advantage in that patients can limit their possible disease exposure by taking advantage of remote consultations and save time too. Using the service of course does not preclude anyone from visiting a physical facility (or following more traditional flows) when it is beneficial for them to do so.”
As for the services Good Doctor Technology Thailand (GDTT) provides to other business, apart from the NHSO OPD Programme, the service is available to users in Thailand via B2B partnership arrangements. Good Doctor Technology Thailand (GDTT) is currently working directly with corporates to launch their healthcare services to employees, with timely and relevant services related to Covid-19 monitoring and home-based screening capabilities that are already made accessible to existing users.
“Telemedicine is the most beneficial for patients who encounter difficulty accessing health care services, especially those who struggle to take time off work for medical purposes,” says Melvin. “A lot of time is wasted with employees queuing up in hospitals, waiting for referrals, or speaking to a doctor about their health concerns during their busy work schedules. This inevitably affects productivity, and a less productive workforce can impact the entire organisation’s success due to significant absenteeism and poor performance levels, which will ultimately lead to a loss in business revenue.”
Telemedicine within healthcare ecosystem
“Many people go to hospitals for non-urgent or non-serious issues that can easily be managed or even resolved via teleconsultations and often require only a prescription. The Good Doctor Technology Thailand online services help address this by simplifying obtaining primary care medical services by patients. This helps relieve the pressure from hospitals and thereby closes the healthcare accessibility gap in the entire country. Our recent agreement with Bangpakok 8 Hospital (BPK8) enables the hospital’s patients under the Social Security Office (SSO) scheme with coverage from their employers to use our online consultations for acute diseases (not including trauma, emergency conditions and chronic disease).”
It all means that telemedicine has a special place in the future medical services ecosystem, and GDTT is planning to further develop this program and enter similar partnership agreements with other hospitals. The company is also working or developing its plug-in integrated solution for mobile applications, similar to the project implemented with SCB SPRING UP app.
“Regarding the full suite of integrated solutions, we recently announced the launch of our novel Healthcare Software as a Service (HSaaS) proposition. This technology-driven initiative marks our latest move to strengthen our B2B partnership offerings, including plug-in solutions for mobile and web-based platforms. As part of the HSaaS model, Good Doctor Technology Thailand will be able to host its telemedicine and digital health services directly within its partners’ platform ecosystem,” explains Melvin. “Such super-apps which offer an “all-in-one” seamlessly integrated service in a single ecosystem are on the rise across Southeast Asia. Coupled with the easing of Covid-19 measures and many Asian economies re-opening after pandemic lockdowns, companies across industries, including the tourism sector, have already shifted from building single purpose to multipurpose apps.”
GDT is very optimistic about the future of telemedicine beyond the pandemic, and the company expects to see an increasing demand for telehealth services in Thailand, as well as other countries across SEA. This optimism is not without solid ground — the demand for a wide variety of health and wellness functionalities also points to the growing reliance on telemedicine services to support proactive long-term wellness care requirements, especially in the new normal era.
“The Covid-19 pandemic forced people to become accustomed to remote consultations. Whenever possible, patients were trying to avoid going to medical facilities, and then they saw the benefits of convenience. So that has accelerated patient demand and acceptance for services such as ours,” concludes Melvin. “We aim to lead the market by expanding on the suite of services offered through the app (particularly to patients in remote locations, etc.) and connecting it to more and more patients in the Kingdom”.