Singapore-based digital health startup MyDoc has taken its first major step into the Indian market through a joint venture with multinational IT provider UST Global.

The new partnership expands access to MyDoc’s virtual managed care platform to more than 14,000 UST employees across the Indian cities of Bangalore and Mumbai. MyDoc CEO Snehal Patel said the deal is part of a larger Asian expansion that will continue over the rest of 2019.

The 30-person venture-backed startup is active in India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Malaysia and is looking to grow in new markets like Thailand and Indonesia.

MyDoc’s platform aims to provide a single point of access for outpatient care helping patients access telemedicine services, manage chronic conditions, track health data, receive e-referrals to lab diagnostics or specialists and drive users to high-quality, in-network providers.

MyDoc decided on pursuing a joint-venture approach for its first foray into India due to UST Global’s status as a MyDoc investor, as well as its deep understanding of the country’s business environment. Creating a deep business and financial alignment, according to Patel, will allow the company to drive more enterprise sales and create a bulwark in the region for greater expansion.

The startup – which was was founded in 2012 – was informed by Patel’s previous efforts as a healthcare investor for Chandler Corporation, a Singapore-based family office. The U.S.-trained physician and lawyer saw firsthand the fragmented nature of primary care in Southeast Asian markets, largely characterized by a lack of quality and access for patients.

That lack of infrastructure has intersected with larger macro-economic trends, including rising prosperity of the region leading to an explosion of chronic diseases like diabetes, as well as the global phenomenon of rising healthcare costs making it difficult for payer organizations to find profitability in the market.

To that end, MyDoc has signed up major insurers like Aetna, Cigna and AIA Group as partners looking to provide more effective and cost-effective primary care using technology.

“Tech really became relevant when you superimpose the issues around access with the new need for chronic care management,” Patel said in a phone interview.

“It’s not a perfect analogy, but we said ‘can we do in healthcare what has happened in India and China with telecom, where we bypass some of the existing problems and get a new generation onto a virtual system?”

Following through on that business thesis in the region has its challenges, but comes with a few innate advantages as well.

For one, regular health screenings are prevalent across various Asian countries, creating a base level of data and a clinical touchpoint to build off of. Additionally – as evident by the region’s rapid of adoption of platforms like WeChat and WhatsApp – there’s a strong appetite and willingness to try new and unfamiliar technology.

Interestingly, one of the company’s proof points with investors has come in the form of New York-based insuretech startup Oscar Health, which has been able to lower the cost of care by effectively steering patients to virtual channels.

“We want to create the same unit value and cost-savings as HMOs, with a much higher quality consumer experience,” Patel said.

“This is a big year for us and we’ll be looking to fully flesh out our footprint in SE Asia and use our six years of learning and development to bring Fortune 50 companies and blue chip insurers on board.”

Picture: guirong hao, Getty Images

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