By SGN | 20 Jun 2023
In 2016, while participating in a social outreach project distributing meals to the elderly, Wai Mun was struck by how homebound seniors struggled to see doctors – a critical need they faced in daily life.
“I saw how immobile seniors lacked access to basic healthcare, as they couldn’t physically leave their homes to seek treatment,” he recalls, “I thought something could be done to improve that accessibility.”
Wai Mun recognised the urgency of an issue which would only grow in magnitude in a steadily ageing society. Close to 1 in 6 Singaporeans were aged 65 and above, the elderly were increasingly living alone, and rates of singlehood were rising, all of which made the need to provide seniors with access to care even more pressing.
Investing in a tech-enabled solution
Prior to his startup journey, Wai Mun was already armed with deep experiences in finance and business development. He had begun his career in private equity at Standard Chartered, then spent close to a decade at Temasek, where he helped conceptualise and establish Singapore-based LNG company Pavilion Energy.
Embarking on a year-long sabbatical without pay, Wai Mun channelled his personal resources into creating a service that connects homebound seniors with compassionate doctors willing to visit them pro bono. The challenge he soon met, however, was in mobilising enough doctors who could serve these seniors while managing existing patient caseloads.
To create a more sustainable solution, Wai Mun expanded the startup’s mission from empowering seniors to providing basic healthcare services to anyone in need. “We turned the service into a commercially viable offering, starting with telehealth consultations,” he says, “without losing the spirit of making healthcare simpler, more accessible, and more affordable.”
Ahead of the digihealth curve
When Doctor Anywhere first launched in 2017, telehealth was a novel concept. Supporters were few and far between. “We faced a lot of scepticism and rejections from patients and the healthcare industry. They weren’t convinced that such a service was needed,” Wai Mun says.
Yet the benefits of bringing doctor consultations online were clear and game-changing. Telehealth helps clinics and hospitals boost efficiency while offering patients lower costs and greater convenience. This is especially critical given escalating healthcare costs and a global shortage of manpower, exacerbated by the rise of chronic disease and ageing populations. Globally, 1.4 billion people will be over 60 by the year 2030.
“Our app efficiently matches users with a pool of local doctors or healthcare providers,” he explains. A patient can access a video consultation in minutes, and medication can get delivered to their doorstep within three hours.”
Even after gaining the support of doctors and investors, there was a crucial hurdle Doctor Anywhere had to overcome: building public trust.
To build credibility, Wai Mun’s team took a decisive and seemingly counterintuitive step to establish their first physical clinics to allow patients to tangibly experience the brand. By focusing relentlessly on quality and delivering exceptional healthcare experiences, they not only attracted a growing customer base and received glowing reviews but also drew greater interest among doctors to join their ranks.
Rapid expansion across the region
“Because of the digital gap, telemedicine alone cannot be a silver bullet in healthcare,” Wai Mun notes, referring to the unequal access to digital technology across various demographics in the region.
This is why Doctor Anywhere’s suite of services has expanded tremendously over the past five years, in a bid to improve inclusivity. Through the app, users can now teleconsult specialists and mental health professionals; request home-based vaccinations, eye tests and health screenings; book dental, chiropractic or aesthetic appointments with partner providers; shop for medication, supplements and other health supplies.
Along the way, it has launched innovative offerings such as the industry’s first online supervised tele-ART service and an AI-powered skin analysis tool that makes personalised treatment recommendations.
Based on a rich bank of data on user behaviours and preferences, Doctor Anywhere has refined its user journey to deliver more seamless and personalised experiences. For instance, a few days after a patient’s initial consultation, they will receive a ‘check-in’ email asking if further assistance is required and recommending relevant products from the online marketplace.
The startup has also formed more partnerships with insurers and swiftly expanded across six countries in Southeast Asia, one of the most culturally diverse regions in the world.
With each new market, however, local needs and behaviours have to be addressed and operating models cannot simply be duplicated. “For example, while patients in Singapore need to see a doctor to get a prescription, the Vietnamese may purchase their medicine directly from a pharmacy,” Wai Mun explains.
Among younger demographics, there is significant interest in long-term, preventive care. Such users are inclined to book home-based vaccinations or health screenings and shop for supplements or healthy snacks.
Driven by the widespread adoption of telemedicine during the pandemic, business has skyrocketed by a phenomenal 10,000% in the last 3 years. Today, Doctor Anywhere boasts 2.5 million users, over 1,000 corporate accounts, and a combined pool of 3,000 medical practitioners.
“In a saturated healthcare market, constant innovation has been vital,” Wai Mun says. “Above all, user-centricity has been the key reason for our success. Regardless of how far we scale, patient experience is our number-one priority.”
He points out that the company always sees itself as a healthcare provider first, and technology as the enabler of its mission. A focus on excellent user experience, then, has fostered loyalty and a willingness among customers to try Doctor Anywhere’s other services.
The decentralised future of healthcare
The rise of digital healthcare in the region has brought with it a slew of job opportunities. At Doctor Anywhere, open roles currently range from product management and software engineering to marketing and operations.
“We have an open culture and a close-knit team, united by a desire to make a difference in the lives of millions across the region,” Wai Mun shares. “Innovation is at the core of what we do, so we’re on the lookout for individuals with an ability to challenge the status quo, take calculated risks to seize opportunities, and not be afraid of failure.”
Looking ahead, he foresees a growing industry emphasis on roles that leverage technology, in areas such as data analytics (e.g. to extract insights and develop algorithms), AI and machine learning (e.g. to analyse medical imaging and process medical records), and UX/UI (e.g. to deliver engaging experiences with a human touch).
As healthtech becomes smarter, care delivery will turn more efficient and personalised, and patient engagement will transcend hospital walls. Wai Mun sees Doctor Anywhere as a key player in this transformation of the sector.
“In time to come, we aim to be one of the largest digital hospitals in Southeast Asia, offering decentralised healthcare across the care continuum,” he says. “Through technology, we can lower costs and elevate health outcomes while creating a seamless, holistic healthcare journey.”
About Wai Mun
Wai Mun is the founder and CEO of Doctor Anywhere, a Singapore-based healthtech startup that aims to transform the healthcare ecosystem in Southeast Asia and beyond. The company was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Startups in Singapore (2021, 2022) and ranked 5th on High-Growth Companies Asia-Pacific 2023 by the Financial Times.
Connect with him here.