The problem is that they are siloed from the equally-important private sectors, causing a digital divide that requires addressing: report.

When 5,000 adults across 13 markets in Asia were polled for their views on their country’s healthcare accessibility and quality in H2 2020, only 54% believed that medical care was accessible and affordable. Less than a quarter (22%) said they could easily access exercise and fitness facilities that would help improve their personal health and wellness in the next year.

Things looked better on the technology side. Over four fifths (81%) of respondents indicated that technology had already improved their access to health services and 60% believed it had improved affordability levels. Some 71% of respondents said they would rely on technology even more heavily in the next three years to improve their personal health and well-being.

The sentiments from respondents from Cambodia, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam—aged 21 to 55 years old and coming from various income groups—if truly representative of the massive regions being surveyed, showed that much can be done to foster collaboration between private and public sectors to maximize the potential of digitalized healthcare.

Feeling the pulse of Asian healthcare

The research, conducted by the intelligence unit of publishing group The Economist (EIU) and commissioned by Prudential Corporation Asia highlights the potential for digitalization to boost accessibility of medical care and healthcare to people in the region.

In that regard, social media was the most frequently cited source of personal health and wellness information. However, respondents had overwhelmingly agreed that the most trustworthy sources were national government and public health authorities. Governments can seize the opportunity by becoming the most reliable source of quality health information for citizens. These trusted organizations can connected health devices but must mandate strict data governance in order not to betray communal trust. When health data is securely centralized, governments can tap the empowerment to design better policies and develop more targeted healthcare infrastructure.

According to Charles Ross, EIU’s Editorial Director: “The research shows that to make health and well-being more accessible and affordable, the public and private sectors need to come together to seize the initiative. A key way to do this is by breaking down ‘data silos’ between disparate healthcare services and creating secure connections between health apps, devices and centralized digital patient records.”

Mirroring the sentiment, Nic Nicandrou, Chief Executive of Prudential, commented: “While Asia has already begun to embrace digital health technologies, the region is still some way from realizing the full potential technology has to offer. The private and public sectors need to come together to make these opportunities a reality, and in doing so, improve health and wellness outcomes for individuals.”