DOC2US, the first telemedicine provider that issues digitally signed e-prescriptions in compliance with the Ministry of Health (MOH), applaud the government’s plan on health care reforms under the 12th Malaysia Plan, and urge the government to provide financial incentives for health tech start-ups to accelerate the country’s digital health care development.
We would like to thank Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, the finance minister, for recognising the possibilities in health tech are limitless when combining technology with government health care spending and public-private partnerships (PPPs).
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, and to facilitate the Government’s efforts to accelerate health care delivery to the rakyat.
As a World Economic Forum (WEF) survey has revealed, 33 per cent of the Asean workforce identified the improved access to affordable and good quality health care is one of the most significant benefits that digitalisation brings to society.
Therefore, the government should invest in more PPPs with the digital health care sector to strengthen the overall health care ecosystem to prepare the country to face any possible pandemic in the future.
In view of the upcoming budget, DOC2US urges the government to grant the following incentives to spur the adoption of digital health care in the country:
- 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 health care professionals.
- Tax exemption for health tech companies: Tax breaks to be given to health tech companies for 2021 to 2025. This will encourage reinvestment of earnings to further develop the digital health care 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.
- Tax exemption for telemedicine platform subscriptions: In line with the government’s plan to reduce the dependence on the public health care 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 health care system by providing primary care to those with non-communicable diseases (NCDS) or other chronic illnesses.
- Tax incentive/subsidy 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 health care. Therefore, the government should provide financial assistance to equipment Malaysian homes with Internet of Things devices such as blood pressure monitor, blood glucose meter, thermometer, oximeter, and smart weighing machine to entice adoption, which will enable early detection and treatment.
As most digital health care platforms are cloud-based and built on a scalable framework that could easily deploy in markets beyond Malaysia, the digital health care 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 health care reform to assist the country in building a sustainable digital health care ecosystem that is inclusive and equitable for fellow Malaysians.
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