Malaysian health-tech company HealthMetrics recently accelerated its corporate membership growth to more than 2 million members and policyholders, following a strategic investment in Across Asia Assist (AAA) Indonesia, an international medical assistance company with a regional presence.
As AAA is also a core partner of the worldwide network of assistance companies servicing more than 118 million members globally, this move allows HealthMetrics’ existing corporate clients opens up options for their employees’ healthcare benefits to include global cashless medical treatments and international assistance, explained Alvin Yuan, CEO of HealthMetrics.
Speaking to Disruptive.Asia, he explained that HealthMetrics’ cloud platform will also help streamline and digitise medical claims and issuance of letters of guarantee for AAA’s existing medical insurance, TPA and international assistance business.
HealthMetrics – a fast-growing cloud enterprise
Alvin describes HealthMetrics as a fast-growing cloud enterprise all-in-one platform in the Asia Pacific region, which has set out to simplify and automate the management of employee healthcare and benefits.
In 2020, HealthMetrics raised a total of RM20 million as part of its series A round led by ACA Investments, a Japanese fund management firm based in Singapore, to expand its regional footprint across Southeast Asia.
“I started HealthMetrics with the intention of creating a better healthcare-seeking experience for corporates and their employees while helping them to optimise healthcare costs as that is one of the primary costs weighing heavily on budgets and spending.”
“Being a regional company with presence across three countries (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia), we are now able to facilitate cross-border treatments for our (HealthMetrics) customers too (e.g. facilitating treatments for Indonesian patients in Malaysia and Singapore) more efficiently.”
He admitted that navigating through healthcare in this region ‘is not easy as healthcare financing is complex with many stakeholders and players such as insurers, government, corporates and healthcare providers. In addition, medical costs are spiralling out of control’.
Furthermore, according to a study commissioned by the insurance and takaful industry, medical costs in Malaysia climbed by an average of 8 to 9 % annually between 2013 and 2018. Another recent research by Chubb, finds that medical costs in Asia Pacific rose 7.6% in 2022.
“This is why I hope HealthMetrics can play an important role to help companies and users navigate these challenges effectively,” he continued. “AAA Indonesia will also benefit from the digitalisation of processes that HealthMetrics have built, and this will further enhance and optimise operational costs internally for both parties and provide bigger value to existing and new clients from Indonesia.”
Optimising healthcare costs
Alvin further outlined that: “We established HealthMetrics through the years as a major player in the employee benefits management platform space, and we would like to expand the ‘employee benefits’ aspect of the business in Indonesia as well, where there is at present, a huge market in corporate-funded healthcare benefits
The company’s mission is to optimise healthcare costs for all by digitising healthcare processes and connecting stakeholders through a central cloud platform.
“We also hope to create a better transparency among stakeholders to combat an unsustainable rise in medical inflation throughout the region,” he points out. “I believe this is especially important in times like these as we continue to see the weakening of our local currency and as more people give more importance to healthy workplaces and holistic healthcare benefits, as we emerge from two years of battling Covid-19.”
“Although there are an abundant of telehealth platforms these days, HealthMetrics plays a vital role as we are B2B2C platform that helps companies navigate the challenges and cost of employee healthcare, particularly post-pandemic.”
Following the pandemic, the evolving normal reflects certain changes around the world, Alvin explained.
“The different healthcare-seeking behaviour and culture in countries outside Malaysia and the role of the government in subsidised healthcare in different countries are some of the challenges we face in trying to localise our platform and offerings.”
“Understanding the healthcare payor’s role and knowledge in integrating them across a single experience in different countries is also critical, meaning that a lot of research is needed to ensure sustainability and value creation of our offerings,” he said.
Apart from that, the general challenges include language and local tech adoption. For example, some ASEAN countries have a ‘mobile first’ culture while others have a more PC-integrated culture, both of which need to be taken into consideration.
Further challenges concern data ownership and privacy. Alvin said: “Communication and education of data ownership and privacy needs to be continuously implemented for users. This is to ensure that the people understand their rights, and also the importance of protecting their data and providing the right consent to the right party at all times.”
In addition to recommending more awareness initiatives, he said: “We noted an acceleration of people using technology and health apps during the past two years as a result of the pandemic. In the pre-pandemic phase, most people were generally resistant to entrust their health data to digital systems; this behaviour has now changed tremendously during the last two years. The next focus for companies and healthcare providers should be to ensure these data are stored and used for the right purposes, with the help of established technology providers.”
Speaking to the Malaysian healthcare landscape, Alvin sees the local healthcare tech sector “is as fragmented as the healthcare ecosystem itself. We see a lot of companies trying to solve the issue of one vertical and this can create a disconnected experience.”
“In addition, the regulatory and governance framework of the health tech sector are still at an infancy stage. The adoption of the healthcare tech framework from more matured countries could accelerate maturation–we don’t have to reinvent the wheel locally –for example, in areas such as patient’s safety, data governance, integration of public and private healthcare, etc.”
HealthMetrics’ own posture is clear, he says. “As a health-tech company, we definitely understand the sensitivity of the kinds of data we process. We put data and information security as a priority, so we are ISO27001 certified. We also continuously ensure that we adhere to strict practices and we conduct penetration testing on our systems on a regular basis.”
Alvin concluded his remarks on the immediate future by citing the tie-up with AAA: “With this investment, we are now in an excellent position to live up to our vision of optimising healthcare costs for all, with our advanced technology solutions. In addition to AAA being a springboard to help expand HealthMetrics’ global reach and access thousands of healthcare partners worldwide, this transaction also marks our foray into the international medical assistance industry. I am confident our union with AAA, leveraging our respective expertise and capabilities, will greatly benefit both HealthMetrics’ and AAA’s clients and partners.”
Related article: Asia-Pacific’s next healthcare focus: patient-centric apps