Kuala Lumpur, Oct 29: DOC2US, the first telemedicine provider that issues digitally signed e-prescriptions, urged the Government to provide more financial incentives for health-tech start-ups to accelerate the country’s digital healthcare development.
Recently, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz recognised the limitless possibilities in health-tech through combined technology with Government healthcare spending and public-private partnerships(PPPs) during the virtual briefing on the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s latest ASEAN Digital Generation Survey.
In response DOC2US CEO Dr Raymond Choy said that the Program Imunisasi Industri COVID-19 Kerjasama Awam-Swasta (PIKAS) was a good example of how PPPs have been proven as one of the most effective ways to bring forth transformation with a shorter time-span and impactful result while facilitating Government’s efforts to accelerate healthcare delivery to the people.
“As the WEF’s survey has revealed, 33 per cent of the ASEAN workforce identified the improved access to affordable and good quality healthcare is one of the most significant benefits that digitalisation brings to society.
“Therefore, the Government should invest in more PPPs with the digital healthcare sector to strengthen the overall healthcare ecosystem to prepare the country to face any possible pandemic in the future,” added Dr Choy.
In view of the upcoming budget, DOC2US urged the Government to grant the following incentives to spur the adoption of digital healthcare in the country :
1) Health-tech Grant – To empower homegrown health-tech start-ups with a seeding grant to kick start the business venture and/or expand into ASEAN countries. In addition, a developmental grant should also be given to Universities or other education institutions introducing digital health in their curriculums to ensure the sustainability of quality digital healthcare professionals.
2) Tax Exemption for health-tech companies – Tax breaks to be given to health-tech companies for YA2021 – 2025. This will encourage re-investment of earnings to further develop the digital healthcare ecosystem with innovative products, promote awareness and drive adoption. Particularly, a double-tax exemption should be given to research spending on proof-of-concept that has the potential to bring forth disruptive changes.
3) Tax Exemption for telemedicine platform subscriptions – In line with the Government’s plan to reduce the dependence on the public healthcare system, the income tax exemption would encourage those who could afford to use non-government medical resources, thus freeing them up for those who really need it and could not afford treatment elsewhere. Indeed, telemedicine providers could relieve the public healthcare system by providing primary care to those with non-communicable diseases (NCDS) or other chronic illnesses.
4) Tax Incentive or subsidies for the purchase of smart home solutions – According to the WEF survey, expensive internet and expensive devices are the top two obstacles standing in the way of ASEAN’s digitalisation acceleration, including the adoption of digital healthcare.
Therefore, the Government should provide financial assistance to equipment Malaysian homes with IoT devices such as blood pressure monitor, blood glucose meter, thermometer, oximeter, smart weighing machine etc, to entice adoption, which will enable early detection and treatment.
“As most digital healthcare platforms are cloud-based and built on a scalable framework that could easily deploy in markets beyond Malaysia, the digital healthcare sector has the potential to be a key economic driver for Malaysia given the right push.
“We look forward to contributing to drafting the blueprint for the healthcare reform to assist the country in building a sustainable digital healthcare ecosystem that is inclusive and equitable for fellow Malaysian,” Dr Choy said.
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