Tech Startups revolutionizing healthcare department in the rural areas of Indonesia

Healthcare in Indonesia has never been recognised as world-class; and local doctor visits have always been a crapshoot. If your daughter comes down with a fever or even a case of strep throat, it might be fine to visit the local clinic, but you’d still want to get a good doctor referral from your friends ahead of time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls reliable medical care a “basic human right,” and yet one of the major barriers to creating a quality healthcare system in Indonesia is a painful lack of qualified specialists and nurses. This is especially visible in the nation’s rural areas, where 50 per cent of Ind

In this country, only around 600 specialist physicians graduate each year, and many of them choose to start careers in the pharma or insurance sectors because the money is just better. Stakeholders will tell you that this shortage of doctors is challenging, particularly when it comes to building and staffing new hospitals in second tier cities.

The uneven geographical distribution of medical professionals is tough (as it is in other countries too) because doctors can be reluctant to practice in rural areas, according to a recent EY report. Nearly 50 per cent of all healthcare professionals in Indonesia disproportionately practice on the islands of Java and Bali.

While the country’s ratio of hospital beds to population is the lowest in ASEAN and among the lowest in the world, the average bed occupancy rate of 64 per cent in recent years was well below the Ministry of Health’s ideal ratio of between 80 per cent and 85 per cent.

Another key indicator to be aware of is that around 70 per cent of childbirths in rural areas take place at home. Meanwhile, almost 33 per cent of childbirths in urban areas still take place at home, according to a WHO estimate made a few years back.

Much like how the local fintech industry is all about basic financial inclusion, the health-tech space in Indonesia needs to find ways to provide basic medical inclusion. We can already see startups leveraging the internet in interesting ways.

Another interesting example is an internet of things (IoT)-driven company that empowers rural midwives to record fetal heartbeat and uterine contractions during pregnancy via smartphone. The results are sent automatically to OB-GYN doctors on standby for further analysis and sent back to the midwife shortly thereafter. The goal of this company is to lower the mortality rate of mothers and babies in poor and rural Indonesia via an affordable cardiotocography device, accurate and timely diagnosis, and better governance of the process overall.