62% of Malaysian respondents say they obtain health-related information through social media platforms; more than half agree social media was a valuable source of information during the Covid-19 pandemic last year
72% of Malaysian respondents – the highest in Asia - found that health-related information from smartphone health apps were useful in managing their health
However, 69% agree financial constraints will make it difficult for them to take measures to improve their personal health and wellness in 2021
Kuala Lumpur, 22 March 2021 – In a new research Pulse of Asia – The Health of Asia Barometer, it is revealed that of the 13 Asian markets surveyed, Malaysia leads in the adoption of digital healthcare services, with Malaysians believing they will be more reliant on technology in the future to improve their personal health and wellbeing.
The report written by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by Prudential Corporation Asia explores attitudes to healthcare in Asia and highlights the demand for tools and services to help people in the region better navigate the healthcare system. It also highlights the opportunity for governments to partner with the private sector to maximise the potential of digital healthcare.
High rates of digital health technology adoption
Only slightly more than half of respondents (54%) in the region believe that medical care is accessible and affordable. More concerningly, less than a quarter (22%) say they can easily access fitness facilities that would help improve their personal health and wellness in the coming year. However, the Asia-wide research also underlines the potential of technology to directly combat these challenges.
Malaysia showed a slightly higher acceptance to digital tools and technology, with 25% expecting to use a digital platform and 21% expecting to use a smart watch to manage their health. Taking a closer look at the findings, 25% of Malaysians said that they would consider using a digital platform that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose or manage their health. Furthermore, the majority of respondents in Malaysia find health-related information available from smartphone health apps useful. The percentage (72%) is highest among the Asian respondents.
Gan Leong Hin, CEO of Prudential Assurance Malaysia Berhad commented: “The Covid-19 pandemic serves as a daily reminder of the importance of healthy living and has created more awareness about the causal link between lifestyles and disease. The findings of this research underscore the importance of taking proactive measures to improve personal health which will continue to be a priority for Malaysians in 2021 and they seek convenient and affordable solutions to help them do so.”
Over four fifths (81%) of the Asian respondents say technology has already improved their access to health services and nearly two thirds (60%) believe it has improved the affordability. However, higher than the average in Asia, 69% of respondents in Malaysia agree that financial constraints will make it difficult for them to take measures to improve their personal health and wellness this year. Despite the financial constraints, two-thirds of Malaysians are optimistic that their health will be better in 2021.
The survey reflected the people’s affinity for health technologies across markets in Asia. It shows there is a wide variety of digital devices that individuals in the region are using to improve their personal health. Among the popular devices listed were blood pressure monitors, smart watches, smart body temperature thermometers, wearable fitness trackers and intelligent weight scales. Apart from devices, other aspects of utilised digital health included online services connecting people to doctors and other providers of health advice; covering advice on disease prevention across the region.
Wan Saifulrizal Wan Ismail, Chief Executive Officer of Prudential BSN Takaful Berhad said “Prudential introduced our health app Pulse by Prudential to empower people to be more proactive, preventive and promotive in their approach to healthcare. With Pulse, we are able to help address the sizable and growing health protection gap, which is underpinned by escalating medical costs and a rise in chronic and non-communicable diseases. But we cannot do it alone. We work with partners who have the relevant specialisations and the public sector to make healthcare more inclusive and accessible for everyone.”