Taking a look at health tech during and after the pandemic
It is true when some say that all these virus handlings during the pandemic is relatively short-term, and that is only natural. Because, first, the focus of business and government leaders that currently exist on how to soak the growth curve in order to save other aspects of people's lives seems to find many obstacles in their execution. Secondly, clearly no one saw this coming.
It is interesting to see and imagine how things are after the pandemic. Realizing that the new normality is not merely a myth, it seems like this is a good moment to think that the public, in general, will no longer want to return to the status quo because the activities carried out during the current pandemic can actually work well (even better than "old habits"). The project monitoring with micro-management is replaced by the kanban management system. Meetings can be finished more quickly and effectively with a video call conference platform. The supply of groceries in households can be fulfilled by agritech services. All of these big changes - seem to turn into a permanent reality.
Not to mention the health industry. Rapid transformation to digital in all sectors—in facing the crisis—is considered to have a major impact on the growth of health tech which will then become part of the whole health care system (such as hospitals and government related entities) in the coming years. For the record, health tech is now the second-largest sub-sector of the UK technology sector after fintech and there are more than 100 health tech companies that are only a few steps to become a unicorn. In a GeekWire podcast episode, CEO TransformativeMed Doug Cusick alluded to the fact that technology is a necessity for solving problems but we must not rule out the situation—both economically and health condition—of medical officers who are at the forefront, and the tech industry must start paying more attention to creating great collaboration between startups and related parties. So, as we all hope, this collaboration will enable all elements in the ecosystem to work optimally—including the medical staff earlier.
At the very least, there are two main things that startups must pay attention to, especially those who plan to get involved in health tech, to participate in helping strengthen lines in the health sector.
Forget disruption, focus on collaboration
Digital technology innovators such as startup founders are frequently considered "solutions" rather than "parts of solutions". We can see from how unicorns are often portrayed as a beacon of change in economic and social activities in society. In fact, in the case of during and post-pandemic, it is evident that digital technology is not a single solution that will save humans from Covid-19; on the contrary, we all surely agree that medical workers and scientists are the true backbone of a great solution to get through this crisis.
What a startup can do is empowerment. Collaboration with stakeholders, not industry disruption. This collaboration requires cooperation with experts in their fields who serve on the front lines every day. Ultimately, digital technology will become a tool to make a life for medical workers easier.
Apple and Google are examples that can be replicated, in a certain way. The two tech giants have teamed up to develop applications that utilize Bluetooth technology for contact tracking. This system will pull test data and can immediately ascertain whether a citizen needs to conduct an independent quarantine or be tested. Even though it is also necessary to review the assurance that information will not be misused for business conducted after a pandemic and is also seen as skewed by health authorities, this collaboration can be a prototype example of collaboration for more coherent solutions to handling health problems.
Redefining design thinking
For startups, technological support for the latest health tech solutions in the midst of a crisis seems to require a new way of designing, especially in developing prototypes. When referring to the design thinking framework, presenting a minimum viable product (MVP) is likely to be a big challenge, because we certainly do not want to endanger human health and lives because of the prototype of the results of rapid iteration with a minimal quality. In the end, public trust and safety can be at stake.
By considering the principles of design—especially in projecting the basic needs of consumers—Covid-19 has shown at least two important parts of the infrastructure currently needed by the health world.
First is a solution to test, track, and isolate populations to collect epidemic distribution data—in the future, it is needed when business activities return to “normal” activities. Second is the development of "health insurance" services that can serve the needs of patients who are gradual during a crisis and normal times. In Indonesia, there are at least three startups that stand out in their efforts to deal with this storm. They launched chatbots and automated channels to help early detection independently while educating the public to always be vigilant, maintain health, and continue to quarantine themselves.
The stated points above are important notes for startups in Indonesia to start implementing products against Covid-19. For new founders or early-stage startups, the points just now would be much better if supported by intensive coaching, in particular for the knowledge needed about product validation, design thinking, and collaboration with stakeholders. Business incubators and accelerators with complete facilities play an important role in this regard. Thus, startups can contribute optimally to help Indonesia become stronger in the face of a crisis, like the current Covid-19 Pandemic.