HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, Vietnam

Vietnam's digital healthcare dragged by user reluctance, admin process

Healthcare professionals and patients face technological constraints at home.

A reluctance to use digital-based systems and complicated administrative processes have been holding back the growth of digital adoption in both public and private Vietnamese hospitals, a report from Fitch Solutions found.

Healthcare professionals and patients have been reluctant to use digital-based systems due to unfamiliarity with these tools and technological constraints at home. Unclear and complicated administrative processes have also slowed digital adoption.

Furthermore, the output of data is not standardized across hospitals, and data security remains a concern for healthcare providers, weakening inter-hospital integration.

The burgeoning health tech sector is also still in its infancy, which will attract significantly less investment. To help the health tech sector sustain the momentum post-pandemic, Fitch believes that companies not only have to appeal to investors and consumers but they also have to be integrated with Vietnam’s national health framework.

“The government will have to play a bigger role in encouraging collaboration between industry players and other stakeholders, provide incentives, and formulate clear policies,” the report added.

Fortunately, the country’s startup sector, although smaller in size compared to that of other Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore or Indonesia, is actively contributing to the digitalization of healthcare.

The report noted that much like pharmaceuticals and medical devices firms, health tech startups operate in a highly regulated sector where there are still many uncertainties in the regulatory landscape.

“The government will have to play a bigger role in encouraging collaboration between industry players and other stakeholders, provide incentives, and formulate clear policies. Thus, though there is still a lot of room for the health tech sector to grow, the digital transformation of healthcare in Vietnam is already well underway,” Fitch noted.

Further, Vietnam's medical systems is expected to see greater integration of technology as a means to address shortcomings in healthcare access and enhance sector efficiency. The use of IT especially contributed to help Vietnam control the pandemic.

Vietnam is also one of the first countries to apply electronic medical declarations, Bluezone tracing applications and COVID-19 safety maps.

The country also established Telehealth, a network aimed to connect around 14,000 health facilities nationwide and link them with other countries in the medical field, part of the nation’s digital transformation program towards 2025, with a vision to 2030.

The Ministry of Health last June approved a five-year project on remote medical examination and treatment involving 24 hospitals. Here, apps and medical services will be developed to manage files and knowledge systems, as well as helping patients find medical information, make their appointments, and consult doctors.

“These measures will accelerate the digitalization across Vietnam’s hospital network, which is currently fragmented and mainly implemented in central level public hospitals and private hospitals in major cities,” the report stated.

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