Placing 10th on the 2022 World Index of Healthcare Innovation, Singapore’s healthcare has seen vast improvements within the past decade. As the government prepares for an ageing population, it has made a series of improvements to the local infrastructure, such as introducing the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) in 2011. A digital repository of health data, the NEHR aimed to create a more seamless experience for patients, no matter which clinic or hospital they went to.
The government has also actively wooed startups, including those in healthtech, resulting in a thriving deep tech ecosystem with a quick rise of startups making their headquarters in Singapore. Even local universities want to take a bite of the deep tech apple; three local universities inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a $75 million pilot programme to aid the development of profitable deep tech startups.
With so many vying for attention, it’s impressive enough that one such Singapore-headquartered healthtech and insurtech named MiyaHealth has gotten the attention of big-name players such as ST Engineering and has managed to raise $10.4 million in its Pre-Series A funding round.
Founded during the pandemic, the young company was born from tragedy and necessity with lofty ambitions to change forever the way the many moving parts in the healthcare system work with each other.
Turning the tragedy around
In 2018, Dr Ramesh Rajentheran lost his wife to a series of misdiagnoses. The 42-year-old succumbed to a simple infection that was exacerbated by misdirection and, eventually, a lack of the required antibiotic. Furious and dejected, Dr Ramesh, a former practising doctor, healthcare investment banker, and CFO of a major healthcare organisation, felt that the systems he had worked for had failed him.
“I found myself in the heartbreaking position of accompanying my five-year-old boy to say his final goodbyes to his mother on life support. I was determined to prevent anyone from enduring what my son and I had to go through,” he shared.
Witnessing the flaws in the infrastructure he used to champion, he knew what needed to be done to fix it — “I believe that (it can) be rectified through technology, better data, and more effective processes.” Along with two other founders, chief product officer Bevan Cheong and chief operating officer Shirley Ah-Hee, he created MiyaHealth, a data and AI-driven platform with the goal of a fuss-free healthcare experience.
Comprising three suites — MiyaPatient, MiyaPayor, and MiyaProvider — each caters to patients, payors (insurance companies, governments, or corporations) and providers (clinics and hospitals), relieving the need for jumping through administrative hoops to get their treatments and settle claims more efficiently.
Bridging the gap
The radically comprehensive approach to healthcare, if successful, will be one of the first in Southeast Asia. With no precedent in the regional market, they focused on standardising health data across the board to create a common language (what Dr Ramesh calls the “data dictionary”) readable by their patented AI.
It also helps that all three founders came from varied backgrounds; Dr Ramesh offers a doctor-patient perspective, Cheong comes from insurance, and Ah-Hee from operations. All three of them collectively run MiyaHealth, and even though Dr Ramesh makes most of the decisions, the other two hold veto power.
Sharing the same diversity is the rest of the team, which is made up of developers, data scientists, and medical professionals. The presence of women within higher management positions has also contributed to a company where half of the employees are female-identifying, an encouragingly high ratio in a deep-tech startup. He added, “We believe that this holistic approach to technology sets our products apart.”
Presently, MiyaHealth operates in Poland, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. In Europe, the MiyaPatient suite takes on the form of a MiyaAvatar to engage with and monitor patients with chronic diseases. In Southeast Asian countries, MiyaProvider is used in health institutions in Malaysia, and MiyaPayor has been adopted by insurance companies.
Refining their products in a larger foreign market for the time being, they aim to eventually offer all three suites in every country, including Singapore, where they’re based. The rush for healthcare services and a lack of manpower during and after the peak of Covid-19 has, more than ever, highlighted the necessity for more efficient processes.
In the near future, the company intends to secure Series A funding and continue with its expansion. Their goal: To “serve 100 million individuals globally”. As they grow the team and develop the MiyaHealth suites in their overseas markets fully, Dr Ramesh believes that they’ll be able to plug the gap in the local healthcare system, bridging public and private institutions in the field.
With his eye on the long game, he’s already thinking about the company’s longevity; he wants to form a team that can succeed him. He knows that fixing the infrastructure of healthcare won’t happen overnight, but that won’t stop him from trying. He said with resolve, “Even if I were to fail in this endeavour, I wanted to be able to tell my son that his daddy tried his best to fix things.”