SINGAPORE -- Private health care provider Raffles Medical Group on Thursday launched a 24-hour telemedicine platform in a bid to increase its share of Singapore's market and expand overseas.
Through RafflesConnect, patients will be able to get round-the-clock consultations with doctors who have access to their medical records at the company's flagship hospital. After diagnosis, prescriptions can be delivered directly to their address.
The service will initially available only in the city-state, but there are plans to expand it to China later this year as a key part of a drive to access the country's huge and growing market.
"In the past we were limited by time and space and you had to come to the hospital," said Loo Choon Yong, executive chairman of Raffles Medical. "But with technology, we can reach out and advise patients at home."
Raffles Medical has not disclosed the amount it has invested in the platform, which was created in partnership with Doctor World, a local health care startup founded in 2017. Beta tests have been underway since November.
Consultation fees range from 18 to 38 Singapore dollars ($13 to $28), depending on the time of day, andthe service will also provide patients with access to their records and updates on their progress.
The launch comes as the Singapore government looks to regulate the growing telemedicine sector. Several platforms have been launched offering consultations and electronic medical certificates, but industry players have warned of many potential dangers regarding quality of care and data protection.
In an effort to establish best practices for the industry, the Ministry of Health has started a regulatory "sandbox" initiative, through which it will partner with providers wishing to launch telemedicine portals.
Doctor World has applied for the initiative and hopes to sign an agreement with the ministry in the first quarter of this year.
The company said it uses end-to-end encryption to keep patient data safe through Amazon Cloud Services.
Personal data in Singapore is protected under the Personal Data Protection Act 2012, which sets out how organizations can collect, use and disclose personal data.
Raffles Medical opened its first hospital in China earlier this month in Chongqing, and plans to open a second in Shanghai in the second half of this year.
A recent report by Daiwa Capital Markets said that the company's annual revenue could grow from 492 million Singapore dollars ($362 million) in 2018 to S$1.41 billion in 2025, with China accounting for almost half of the total.