DoctorOnCall embarks on NTIS journey with US$122k MTDC grant
By Digital News Asia June 24, 2021
- DOCPod to expand access to patients in rural areas via mobile clinics
- Aims to ‘uber-ise’ healthcare, roll out DOCPod in rural and suburban areas
The National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) that was launched under the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) initiative plays an important role in propagating the use of emerging technology particularly in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the key target sectors is medical and healthcare technology where DoctorOnCall, Malaysia’s first and largest digital health platform has been approved to be part of NTIS, to accelerate the development of healthcare related innovation, looking towards creating a smooth regulatory pathway.
Together with NTIS, DoctorOnCall’s DOCPod project aims to expand access to patients, particularly those with chronic illnesses, in rural areas through mobile clinics placed in those communities. The project received a US$122,000 (RM500,000) grant funded under NTIS via the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) to facilitate DOCPod’s prototype design and testing activities.
A pilot run in Langkawi saw DOCPod assisting patients, seeking the facility to manage their health. Patients can check amongst others, their vitals, body temperature, blood pressure and blood sugar readings.
NTIS is led by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and supported by a secretariat which consists of various government agencies involved in the country’s innovation ecosystem, including MaGIC as the lead secretariat which acts as a central depository for ideas, solutions and intellectual property; Malaysia's National Applied Research and Development Centre (Mimos) and Technology Park Malaysia (TPM), which identify new solutions, run technology audits and facilitate certification processing; Futurise, which takes on the regulatory components of the sandbox; and the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC), the main funding partner for the sandbox.
“NTIS is an important component to developing an innovation driven economy, and more so given the impact of Covid-19. Through thes, we believe the use of advanced technology in key sectors such as medical technology can bring about meaningful social and economic impact,” said Amiruddin Abdul Shukor (pic, above), acting chief executive officer, MaGIC.
“We believe the regulations, once implemented, should allow for the secure operations of Digital Health players in addition to patient safety, ultimately creating a vibrant economic driver for our nation and a long term benefit for patients in Malaysia. Currently, no legislation is made available that directly governs the digital health sector. Through NTIS, the government allows us to test our products and business models in a safe, responsible manner. The platform allows innovators like us to flourish with opportunities to scale,” said Maran Virumandi, Managing Director and cofounder of DoctorOnCall.
“We are encouraged by DocOnCall’s solutions in increasing the rakyat’s (citizens) accessibility to healthcare and this can be expedited with the government’s intervention. The pandemic has presented us with the opportunity to accelerate and we must embrace that change to vault the country towards becoming an innovation driven economy. NTIS will endeavour to help startups such as DocOnCall to get to market faster through targeted support, providing a conducive regulatory environment and funding,” adds Amiruddin.
“When you are living in rural towns and villages, it is extremely challenging to seek medical attention. There might not be any clinics and hospitals within the vicinity. So, we took up the challenge to ‘uber-ise’ healthcare by building the DOCPod to solve the problem. We plan to roll out the DOCPod in rural and suburban areas nationwide in the second half of 2021. We are currently upgrading it with sanitisation, ventilation, and filtration elements,” said Maran (pic).
DoctorOnCall received around 15 million users to its site in 2020. The platform’s monthly average user has grown from 600,000 in January 2020 to 2.5 million in January 2021.