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Startups

Indonesia's Halodoc raises $65m to expand hi-tech healthcare app

UOB, Singtel fund online doctor service as Chinese rival readies entry

halodoc
The Halodoc app allows patients to speak with doctors via video calls. (Photo by Kentaro Iwamoto)

SINGAPORE -- Indonesia's largest telemedicine platform, Halodoc, has raised $65 million from investors in Singapore, South Korea and China, reflecting the burgeoning health care needs of Southeast Asia's most populous country.

Halodoc, which counts Indonesian unicorn Go-Jek among its existing investors, said on Monday it had received new funding from UOB Venture Management and Singtel Innov8, venture funds affiliated with Singapore's United Overseas Bank and Singapore Telecommunications, among other investors. 

The Halodoc app is an online platform that connects patients with doctors. Registered physicians offer consultations through a video calls, mainly for routine illnesses. Founded in 2016, the startup already has more than 2 million users and 20,000 registered doctors. It also works with 1,300 pharmacies to deliver medication to customers.

Halodoc said the $65 million fundraising would be used to develop its technology and infrastructure, as well as to broaden partnerships with hospitals and health care providers across Indonesia. "There is a huge potential for us to use technology to extend the reach of conventional health care, providing better access for the archipelago's large population," Halodoc CEO Jonathan Sudharta said in a statement.

The fundraising comes as Ping An Good Doctor, a Chinese competitor with 265 million users as of last December, plans to enter Southeast Asian markets this year through its partnership with Grab, a Singapore-based ride-hailing company. Grab CEO Anthony Tan told the Nikkei Asian Review in a February interview: "This year we'll be launching into customer hands all across Southeast Asia."

Indonesia's 260 million people are short of doctors as economic growth spurs demand for health care. According to the World Health Organization, Indonesia had just 0.2 physician per 1,000 people in 2012, the latest year for which data was available, compared with 2.56 per 1,000 people in the U.S. and 1.81 in China.

Digital technology such as telemedicine is helping to alleviate this problem. Halodoc is a leader in the industry in Indonesia. The rosy outlook for online health care has helped Halodoc attract new investors to the latest round of fundraising, including Korea Investment Partners and Chinese health tech company WuXi AppTec.

UOB, which was the largest investor during this round with an undisclosed investment, last November announced a regional alliance with Grab. Its investment in Go-Jek affiliate Halodoc is a separate activity, a UOB spokesperson said.

Online health care is booming in Southeast Asia due the lack of doctors and loose regulation. Large hospitals have also started partnering with startups, including Singapore-listed Raffles Medical Group, which in January launched a 24-hour telemedicine platform through a tie-up with local startup Doctor World.

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