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A New Normal in Digital Health Arising From the COVID-19 Pandemic

A New Normal in Digital Health Arising From the COVID-19 Pandemic

Photo: Stanley Li, Founder of DXY (丁香园) during the Galen Growth webinar on 6 April 2020.

The underestimation of the COVID-19 crisis, in the beginning, threw our society in uncharted waters, nearly pushing healthcare systems worldwide to its tipping point. As the pandemic escalates to new heights, global paranoia increases and is amplified by geographical proximity and regional connectivity. Is COVID-19 is the creative destructive moment for digital health? During a fireside chat together with Julien De Salaberry, Founder & CEO of Galen Growth and Stanley Li, CEO and Founder of DXY (丁香园), the largest online community of physicians, pharmacies, healthcare professionals and facilitiesin China, founded in 2000, this topic is explored in greater depths.  Digital health is growing at a rapid rate especially during this pandemic, making great value-additions to patient care globally through disruptive technologies.

With the overwhelming of the healthcare system and governments facing the consequences of inadequate pandemic planning, DXY aims to provide trusted clinical knowledge to doctors, together with timely information to the general public to curb anxiety amidst this pandemic. DXY comprises of a large group of healthcare professionals who put the interests of their patients and the health of the general public at heart. With that, Stanley highlighted that an emergency team was activated to deliver the first disease-tracker which collects data from the public. Efforts were made to collaborate with doctors in the community to identify the virus and generate digestible medical knowledge to the public, enabling the mitigation of fear.

DXY’s motto comprises of Information. Consultation. Engagement (I.C.E motto). This played a vital role in DXY meeting consumer needs as Stanley believes in the integration of this motto constantly. At the Information stage, educating consumers by generating content to clarify common questions raised in public, tremendously aid in lessening questions at the consultation stage. Despite this business model, Stanley mentioned the gaps of it such as poor funding of General Practitioners in China, leading to the influx of patients in hospitals that do not have basic medical services.

Partnerships with various organizations allow consumers to extensively use DXY’s products and services in China. With Huawei smartphones users being able to monitor data change and having an open API to John Hopkins and WHO China’s office, DXY certainly broadened its value among consumers. In addition, public concerns about transportation were recognized, resulting in the collaboration with DiDi,  a widely used mobile transportation platform in China. This educates passengers on how to protect themselves during the ride-sharing and allows them to contact doctors if they are symptomatic.

COVID-19 changed the mindset of many regarding digital health, including the Chinese government, which used to be rather conservative towards online health. In the last two months, the central government released 3 new policies to encourage online digital health services, including the use of patients’ insurance policies to make online payments for online consultations. With the surge in demand for their online services eg. online consulting, knowledge, education and broadcasting – underlining the critical role of digital health to both the public and private sectors. In fact, demand for DXY’s online webinars had risen more than nine times in the past two months.

Digital health has been pushed to new heights. The post-pandemic society will witness the maturing of digital health from being an alternative channel to a mandatory one – with COVID-19 necessitating the replacement of physical hospital visits and face-to-face sessions with online education through digital channels.

“I believe the disrupting point or turning point of digital health has arrived, and it can push the industry in a much faster way than we expected!” enthused Stanley Li, CEO and Founder, Ding Xiang Yuan.

The fireside chat wrapped up an exciting afternoon of pitching by nine startups to potential investors lined up by Galen Growth as part of its quarterly Deal Factory – conducted online for the first time because of the COVID-19 situation.

© 2023 Galen Growth Asia Pte Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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