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Indonesia's next unicorn?

Updated: Jul 24, 2018

My father takes a total of 26 pills daily. The rainbow of pills he pops covers medications for his heart, cholesterol, and a bunch of multivitamins and supplements. My mom expertly sets out the concoction 3 times a day to make sure the correct doses are taken, and would pack them in little labeled dispensers whenever they travel. I, on the other hand, lack her organizational skill, and have often just popped another multivitamin before I sleep just in case I haven’t taken it in the afternoon.

Photo credit: WIX

So I wasn’t too surprised at the news of online giant Amazon’s whopping $1B purchase of PillPack recently. PillPack is, in my opinion, a genius solution to caregivers and those with goldfish-memory (no names need mentioning here).

The healthcare industry has seen quite a few innovations, although compared to other industries we have seen few unicorns globally in the digital healthcare space. Investments on healthtech continue to increase however, and the numbers in Asia is a solid $2.6B in 2017 alone.

In Indonesia, an island-country with 17,000 islands and an ever increasing rate of connectivity, the digital healthcare arena is one where I personally feel has particularly huge potential – both as an investment and in making valuable impact to Indonesians.

One healthtech segment aiming to improve patient access to physician for example is already getting crowded with players such as HaloDoc, Alodokter and KlikDokter to name a few. There’s certainly a good case for telemedicine – according to the WHO, there is 1.3 doctors for every 10,000 Indonesians. To put this into perspective, France – often cited as having the best healthcare system in the world, has 34.5 doctors for every 10,000 Frenchmen, while neighboring Malaysia has 15.

Indonesia’s healthcare industry is a $30 billion market, growing at about 10% per year. It’s a good sized market, making up about 30% of the healthcare market in Southeast Asia. As the middle class population increases, quality healthcare demand will only increase.

There’s little doubt that technology will play a crucial role in changing the industry, and certainly the way healthcare is accessed by Indonesians. Most traditional healthcare players are already at various stages of ‘digitizing’ their services, but there is a vast opportunity here. Rarely do we see a traditional player successfully leading their industry’s tech space. It is new entrants who disrupt the industry instead, as GoJek has done to transport and Tokopedia to shopping. Yet there are only a handful of startups in health space. With the industry poised to grow sustainably, pain points of the system obvious, and several successful models already available elsewhere, the next Indonesian unicorn may very well be within this sector.

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