Health IT and eHealth top digital health expectations in Asia

 18-Jul-16, by Josephine Loo, Global Growth Markets


Health IT and eHealth are two of the most promising areas of Digital Health in the Asia-Pacific region, a Global Growth Markets survey has found. Countries that showed the strongest support include two of the largest, where current penetration levels are relatively low: China and Indonesia. EHR market growth in APAC is higher than the global average, and this faster growth is expected to continue.  


Health IT and eHealth are two of the most promising areas of Digital Health in the Asia-Pacific region. This is according to a recent survey of more than 200 clinicians and healthcare managers across the region, conducted by market information company Global Growth Markets.

Respondents were asked which aspects of Digital Health they believe are most likely to improve patient outcomes in the next few years. 37% of regional respondents selected Health IT and eHealth.

Benefits to patients

The benefits of interoperability in healthcare information systems and increased usage of electronic health records are well-recognised. They include lower costs and higher efficiency in healthcare administration and service delivery. Crucially, by reducing the risk of errors and improving the timeliness of information, hospitals can provide better patient care.

Big markets – high hopes

Countries that showed the strongest support include two of the largest, where current penetration levels are relatively low:

  • China, where 71% of respondents mentioned Health IT and 68% mentioned eHealth
  • Indonesia, where 46% and 50% mentioned Health IT and eHealth respectively.

In addition to these two major markets, Health IT was mentioned by 50% of respondents in Taiwan and eHealth by 42% of respondents in Australia.

While support for Health IT and eHealth was equally strong in China from both public and private sectors, in Indonesia, support was significantly stronger from the private sector. For Health IT, 85% of the responses in Indonesia came from respondents in private hospitals, and for eHealth the figure was 64%.

Increasingly mobile

A separate Global Growth Markets research program commissioned by leading clinical information solutions provider Elsevier found that 46% of doctors in Asia-Pacific refer to clinical information on their smartphone or tablet during patient consultations.

"The medical community in these countries clearly supports the benefits of readily accessible, clinical information on mobile devices, both for patients and for doctors," said Monica Mak, Marketing Director Clinical Solutions. Elsevier's ClinicalKey search engine provides access to evidence-based information, both via mobile devices and online.

The eHealth opportunity in China

The eHealth industry has come a long way in China since the Ministry of Health first started publishing Health IT standards in 2009. The government set out to develop regional health information platforms and a hospital information platform using electronic health records (EHR). By 2014, an estimated 50% of tertiary hospitals, 30% of urban community health centres, and 20% of rural hospitals in China had their own EHR system.

The next step in China now is to establish widespread standards-based interoperable EHR in hospitals, and a national eHealth infrastructure. By 2020, the aim is for 80% of tertiary hospitals, 50% of urban health centres and 50% of rural hospitals to have their own EHR system.

The opportunities for participation are therefore numerous. International software providers are already exploiting these opportunities for EHR development in China, as are local companies such as Yonyou, Neusoft and B-Soft.

Growth in APAC

In value terms, the potential for growth is significant, not just in China but for the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. According to estimates, the global EHR market reached USD22 bn in 2015. The Americas (mainly the US) make up half this market, followed by EMEA at USD7 bn. The market in APAC is so far worth only USD4 bn.

The potential for individual countries in Asia, as well as for the region as a whole, to grow much further seems assured. Market growth in APAC has been running at ~8% in recent years, higher than the global average of ~6%.

And this faster growth in APAC is expected to continue, driven by economic expansion, government initiatives, strong investment in healthcare as populations age and suffer from non-communicable diseases, higher usage of mobile devices, and increased demand for patient care as lifestyle expectations rise.  



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