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Monday, February 2, 2015

Expect ‘frugal innovation’ in emerging market healthcare in 2020: Deloitte report 02-03

Expect ‘frugal innovation’ in emerging market healthcare in 2020: Deloitte report 

In five years’ time, emerging markets in Southeast Asia will come up with new business models and products in the healthcare and life sciences sectors.
That is the prediction for the world’s emerging economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America, in a report released recently by Deloitte UK’s Centre for Health Solutions.
The trend is called ‘frugal innovation’, which goes a long way in meeting inherent healthcare challenges such as access and affordability in emerging markets.
“When we think of innovation, we tend to associate it with the culmination of a more sophisticated gadget with a greater number of features,” said Mohit Grover, Life Sciences & Health Care Leader for Deloitte Southeast Asia.
“The idea of frugal innovation, however, is the contrary. Instead of adding more features, frugal innovation aims to reduce complexity – and hence costs – by stripping non-essential features.”
In Asia, healthcare access is limited by poor infrastructure and the lack of caregivers, he said. The latter challenge is worsened by the brain drain of healthcare workers from emerging economies to developed countries because of better pay and job prospects.
Grover said: “The lack of healthcare financing options – coupled with the increasing cost of treatment for diabetes and many chronic diseases, which are becoming major killers even in emerging markets – has left many patients facing high out-of pocket expenditures that are beyond reach.
“This also means that many of those living in under-invested areas such as smaller towns or rural areas either do not have access to healthcare or have to pay significantly more for treatment because they need to travel to larger cities and often get treated at an advanced stage of the disease.”
For example, many rural areas of Asia’s emerging economies lack hospitals and even local dispensaries. According to Grover, finding innovative solutions to deliver healthcare outside the traditional hospital setting can effectively extend reach into these areas.
In this respect, tele-health and mobile health technologies hold much potential. An application that allows people to consult doctors remotely can tackle the challenges of geographical distances, cost and time. Grover pointed to Singapore-based healthcare start-up Ring.MD, which lets anyone, anywhere, consult the world’s best doctors by video or phone.
“While these technologies remain limited by the nascent telecommunications infrastructure in emerging markets and are likely to only bear fruit in the medium to long term, other innovations that enhance productivity and reduce complexity can be low-lying fruit for the healthcare sector,” he said.
He cited the successful example of the low-cost Odon Device, produced by global medical technology company BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), which helps doctors and midwives deliver babies safely when complications occur during labour.
Other predictions in the Deloitte report, called “Healthcare and Life Sciences Predictions 2020: A bold future?”, show a world that is markedly different from today.
People will become better informed about their genetic profile, existing and potential diseases, and the availability of healthcare. Most medical care will also take place at home, thanks to the proliferation of digital communication.
One perennial issue remains in Asia, however.
“Pharmaceutical companies will have an increased challenge in Asia to meet compliance standards,” said Grover. “Asia is a complex and diverse region with language and cultural differences that make a one-size-fits-all regulatory compliance solution like the ones adopted in the West difficult to achieve.
“Furthermore, many Asia countries are in early stages of healthcare system development. While resources are limited, there is a compelling need to raise compliance standards.”

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