The healthcare sector is perhaps the last place that one would think the sharing economy would reach. However, a startup from Southeast Asia called HD is taking advantage of how the system works in that region to develop a model that benefits every party involved.
HD claims to have created a model that can be compared to Booking.com but for the healthcare industry in which patients can book surgery at a private facility at a lower cost as clinics are now competing within the platform to increase their occupancy rates.
In Southeast Asia, most doctors are underpaid for their work at top healthcare institutions. What they do to supplement their income is lure patients to private facilities where they can charge higher rates while the customer is benefitted by being served faster and better.
HD’s services are currently available in Thailand and Indonesia and they claim to have served more than 250,000 patients through their platform. To achieve this, they have developed a network made up of over 1,500 healthcare providers thus far to give customers an ample range of choices.
Some of the procedures that can currently be booked on the Thailand website include annual health checks, vaccinations, dental work, acne treatment, and several plastic surgeries.
HD recently pulled $6 million from investors including iSeed, Orvel Ventures, and Partech Partners. The company is also a participant in the 2022 cohort of the Google for Startups Accelerator.
What Makes HD Unique?
The benefits of using HD’s platform are clear. Surgeons and physicians have a platform to advertise their services easily and reach a large audience at a relatively low cost and without hassles.
Meanwhile, patients benefit from lower prices resulting from a competitive environment. Finally, clinics and private healthcare facilities can increase their occupancy rates and, hence, their profitability by attracting both physicians and customers via promotions and discounts.
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HD has also become a player in the healthcare sector as it now owns several private-label operating rooms that surgeons can book to perform their procedures. The firm’s plans include ramping up the number of surgeries performed in these venues to 200 procedures per quarter by the fourth quarter of 2023.
One of the risks that the company faces through this model is to determine how liable it is in cases of malpractice and poorly-performed procedures. In this regard, HD prioritizes customer satisfaction and acts as a marketplace only, meaning that they do not make recommendations and transfer the responsibility of reviewing each physician’s credential and track record to the customer.
“In general, HD prioritizes minimally invasive, short-stay, elective surgeries that have low output variation such as thyroid and hemorrhoid surgery, in addition to outpatient procedures”, the company’s co-founder and CEO of HD, Sheji Ho, told TechCrunch.
Meanwhile, the founder believes that instead of being a headwind, the recessionary cycle that the global economy is apparently entering at the moment could benefit HD’s business.
“So, as we enter the recession, there is enough opportunity — hospitals sitting on excess rooms. We have a two to three-year window to rapidly grow that part of the business”, he said in the interview.
Further Details About the Southeast Asia Healthcare Sector
Around 40% of people in Southeast Asia pay for their medical procedures out of pocket compared to just 32.4% in the Americas and 29.8% in Europe.
Estimates from Access Health International indicate that healthcare spending in Southeast Asia could increase from $425 billion as of 2021 to $740 billion as of 2025. This growth has been primarily sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and innovation within the sector could result in benefits for consumers.
Meanwhile, estimates indicate that the digital economy within this region could grow at an annual rate of 20%, with gross merchandise volumes reaching $200 billion last year.
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