Mobile Health MaNaDr , was launched by Siaw Tung Yeng in 2017. The company provides a telemedicine service – mainly in Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia with its footprints in Vietnam Cambodia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Indonesia and India.
The MaNaDr service has been widely adopted in Singapore and was expanded during the Covid-19 crisis in partnership with Singapore’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Manpower and with support from doctors, corporate partners and politicians.
Unusually for a CEO in a startup seeing rapid growth, Siaw Tung Yeng is not exclusive to the company, he is still a practising doctor. He says this is a strength, however, as his work in medicine, seeing patients and keeping in touch with what patients need and the challenges healthcare professionals must meet, significantly benefits MaNaDr.
About Siaw Tung Yeng
Siaw Tung Yeng has been a practising physician for more than 30 years and has been a senior consultant in family medicine since 2005.
But Dr Siaw is different from many doctors in one key respect. He has been complementing his work as a physician with IT for over 20 years. He worked with Singapore’s Ministry of Health implementing IT in the 1990s. He has also been a director at Gloco Malaysia, which provides health IT since 2006 and a director of United Vision Holdings, which operates seven family medicine clinics across Singapore for 15 years.
This gives Dr Siaw a third-string to his bow: there is his experience as a doctor, his expertise in IT and business experience.
He says this combination is very unusual, and he says that made him almost uniquely qualified to set up MaNaDr.
Dr Siaw says that before technology had made telemedicine viable, he used to dream of a “world where healthcare could be delivered instantly.” And it was this principle that led him to found the company in 2008.
But “no one cared about telehealth then.”
The opportunity only began to emerge two or three years ago, although the Covid-19 crisis has created a new impetus.
Siaw Tung Yeng: Doctor, Techie and Entrepreneur
Dr Siaw still practices medicine in the morning. He says that a lot of venture capital firms said that “we needed a full-time CEO,” but he believes that without ongoing work in medicine, a dedicated CEO would become detached from healthcare on the ground.
He says that “the reason why our system is so robust is that we have people in the MaNaDr team who are also practitioners. A lot of people find it hard to scale in healthcare as they don’t understand the need for real-time scenarios.”
But how does he manage it? How can he possibly find the time to run a rapidly growing HealthTech startup and continue to practice as a doctor — in a busy practice, at that?
It seems that the underlying reason is passion — a real belief in the importance of the work. He is motivated by seeing the difference healthcare can make, and the difference MaNaDr makes.
He adds that he is not unique, many doctors feel the same; for them, the real motivation relates to how they are improving people’s lives.
There is no doubt; his work schedule is daunting. Dr Siaw says that he doesn’t get much sleep, he works until late and gets up early.
He also says he is good at compartmentalising.
But would this be possible if he didn’t passionately believe in what he was doing? It seems unlikely.
He says that he is comfortable financially; he doesn’t need MaNaDr to make lots of money for himself — his motivation appears to be quite different, more altruistic. Although the business has to make money to be sustainable.
Even so, juggling so many priorities can’t be easy. Dr Siaw says that the technique he applies is that first thing every morning he sets aside three things to achieve that day. His co-founder, Dr Rachel Teoh (an outstanding clinician and techie) and he firmly believe in this mantra and we spur each other on every day”, says Dr Siaw.
“This is very important.”
This approach to work can be illustrated by citing what Dr Siaw considers to be the one of the best advice he has received.
Steve Papermaster, the CEO and Chair of Nano and former science and technology advisor to US President George W Bush, says “If you can do it, why not?”
Dr Siaw met Papermaster many times. “He is amazing. He is still in his 60s and travels all around the world. Yet doesn’t look tired. When asked how he manages it, he replies ‘I live in Steve Papermaster time.’”
Dr Siaw has a similar mantra. He says: “live in today.” Planning for the next day is important, but don’t let that occupy yourself.
What Would He Do Differently?
With such a busy life, what would Dr Siaw do differently, if he had his time again?
He says that “I have learned to be very prudent on how I spend money. A lot of companies raise a lot of money and then spend it. Others have never raised money but are still successful.”
He adds: “live within your means as you never know what will happen.”
“If I could start again, I would be even more careful with money.”
“For this, I’ve Dr Rachel Teoh to thank. She is the one who has instilled great financial discipline and prudence into MaNaDr”.
But Dr Siaw continuously emphasises the unique experiences he has had that made MaNaDr possible.
He adds to the three unique experiences referred to above, a fourth.
In addition to his experience as a practising doctor, in IT and business, Dr Siaw refers to his network of contacts. This network of friends and business contacts made MaNaDr possible.
He says that given these unique advantages, “it would be very selfish of me not to contribute to society.”
The Two PS: Patients and Patients
If MaNaDr is about the patient, and Dr Siaw’s life revolves around giving patients the best care, then there is an entirely different type of patient he considers essential.
Because, as they say, patience is a virtue.
Dr Siaw says that being patient is vital. This ties in with comments about living within one’s means and living for the day.
As for books, he does not have a specific book to recommend, instead, he says no one should be like a cocoon; so “read widely.”
Journey of MaNaDr
Dr Siaw, who was born in Sarawak, Malaysia, describes how he saw demand for healthcare rise and then rise further still, leading to higher costs.
It was this combination of rising demand and costs that provided the problem which MaNaDr seeks to solve
“Healthcare must be accessible, affordable and instant.” These three characteristics underline MaNaDr’s mission.
But, the challenge of providing both quality and affordable healthcare is vital.
Dr Siaw says that a physician, “I see patients from the cradle to the grave. But I want such a system to be available and affordable to anyone in the world.”
But the challenge is enormous. Healthcare must still be personal, provided on a one to one basis.
Is all this possible? How can a company offer both quality and affordability? How can it be accessible, affordable and instant, without losing the personal touch?
Technology helps, of course. Dr Siaw also says the company saves money by not advertising — being the cheapest is its advertising. But there is another ingredient.
Dr Siaw says the starting point is empathy and compassion.
Of course, MaNaDr must make money to survive, but many physicians want to give back to society. “And we are not shameful about the need.
But this need to provide care — call it a calling, is not unique to MaNaDr’s founder. Dr Siaw says that we “can rope in many like-minded people, doctors and other professionals.”
Maybe the key to all of this, is that Dr Siaw is himself a practising doctor and thus on the same wavelength of other doctors. By leading by example, he can elicit the support required to provide affordable quality and timely care.
The Impact of Covid-19
In a Galen Growth webinar, Dr Siaw likened the impact of Covid-19 on HealthTech to chocolate.
He said: “Once tasted, forever smitten perhaps. “You can see the excitement in their face,” he says, refereeing to health providers when they realise what digital health can offer.
He says that “there will never be a post-Covid. that things will never be the same.”
To put it another way, the changes in healthcare and HealthTech created by Covid-19 will be eternal. Post-covid will be a continuation of what it was like during Covid, with telemedicine in the forefront.
More specifically, Dr Siaw cites an example.
Fairly early on during the Covid crisis, MaNaDr was roped in by the Singapore Ministry of Health, to ask if they could help support dormitory workers.
So Dr Rachel Teoh spearheaded the whole project, organised a webinar looking at how this could be achieved “, and we got a response from hundreds of doctors.”
The Migrant Workers Center (MWC), corporate partners supported the effort, “and even politicians.
“We didn’t know where the money would come from.” But they pushed ahead anyway. He says that Dr Rachel Teoh has helped MaNADr secured pledges for one million dollars, money they can spend if they need it.
The result was the supply of hundreds of kiosks providing telemedicine to half-million dormitory workers all over the island
He says: “There is nothing more satisfying than providing care to this segment, where it is needed so urgently.”
So Covid has led to an increased need for telemedicine services. Dr Siaw says it has led to people being less sceptical and more trusting of tech solutions.
But he says that the “ecosystem we had built previously, was just ready for Covid-19.
And What About the Galen Growth Cohort?
Dr Siaw says that the cohort “allows us to see the world beyond ourselves; to see what other entrepreneurs are doing. The entrepreneurial journey is tough and lonely, and it is very exciting to see so many possibilities and the incredible ventures others are working on.”
About the Galen Growth HealthTech Cohort
MaNaDr is part of the Galen Growth HealthTech Cohort, the only acceleration programme built to scale digital health startups to be the next generation powering healthcare innovation in the New Normal in Asia. In 2020, Galen Growth is working with 25 HealthTech startups which will benefit from Galen Growth’s long-established and unmatched curated community of investors, corporate leaders and innovation teams and other essential stakeholders through our proven multi-channel tools. For more information, visit Galen Growth’s HealthTech Cohort webpage or read this article on the launch of the Galen Growth HealthTech Cohort.
Read our previous interview with Michel Birnbaum, CEO & Co-Founder of Mindsigns Health here.
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