A physical, offline presence still plays a key role in a healthtech’s growth, whether it’s opening up clinics or developing white label brands.

L-R: Intellect Team at the Intellect flagship clinic opening in Marina One; Tentang Anak founders Mesty Ariotedjo and Garri Juanda celebrating a year of Expert Care by Tentang Anak

Going online-to-offline as a healthtech shouldn’t be a burden on costs but an opportunity for growth

A physical, offline presence still plays a key role in a healthtech’s growth, whether it’s opening up clinics or developing white label brands.

Recent milestones from our healthcare portfolio companies (Intellect’s launch of their flagship mental healthcare clinic and Tentang Anak celebrating the first anniversary of their private label brand Expert Care along with their #madeinindonesia recognition from Google) bring up a key insight on the growth trajectory of healthcare companies in the region: the “traditional”, offline approach still matters, especially in B2C and B2B2C models.

A physical, offline presence still plays a key role in growth, whether it’s opening up clinics, partnering with healthcare groups to distribute offline, or developing white label brands to tackle specific needs of customers.

Expert Care by Tentang Anak products

Expert Care by Tentang Anak products

While healthcare drew the spotlight of investors in Southeast Asia thanks to the emergence of “remote service delivery”, simply growing and monetizing on top of this has not been enough.

Following a first principle we’ve mentioned before to progressively “own” the value chain and veer away from a pure platform play, healthcare companies are also finding it valuable to build a more tangible presence beyond virtual services by also venturing into the actual treatment (as opposed to just connecting providers with patients).

But isn’t the whole point of technology to reduce the costs of setting up offline?

This may apply to only specific aspects of the customer journey (e.g., service discovery, treatment monitoring, maintenance, etc.) , and the cases where offline spaces are incorporated (e.g., treatment proper) can be an opportunity to build a longer-term relationship with the patient, more effectively than a purely virtual experience would.

Intellect Clinic

Intellect Clinic

Having this online-to-offline distribution also strengthens the competitive advantage of the company’s core technology, if there is, as it would reduce costs of an otherwise purely offline process while still granting the company greater coverage than purely online players.

This means a shift in mindset around implementing online-to-offline strategies, from thinking how about offline execution purely from a costs standpoint to how the offline experience can also drive greater value for the entire business (e.g., stronger retention, more avenues for customer engagement and feedback, more opportunities for B2B and B2B2C distribution).

In light of lower barriers to technology with AI, this is where a lot of the competitive moats will come into play — the ability of the company to focus on which aspects of the customer experience can benefit from offline strategies.

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Paulo Joquiño is a writer and content producer for tech companies, and co-author of the book Navigating ASEANnovation. He is currently Editor of Insignia Business Review, the official publication of Insignia Ventures Partners, and senior content strategist for the venture capital firm, where he started right after graduation. As a university student, he took up multiple work opportunities in content and marketing for startups in Asia. These included interning as an associate at G3 Partners, a Seoul-based marketing agency for tech startups, running tech community engagements at coworking space and business community, ASPACE Philippines, and interning at workspace marketplace FlySpaces. He graduated with a BS Management Engineering at Ateneo de Manila University in 2019.