The telehealth app that takes care of more than just your physical wellbeing
Doctor Anywhere rediscovers the hidden virtues of homebound care, which now also includes consultations with counsellors and psychologists
Once upon a time, it was normal for a doctor to make house calls. With a black bag in tow, packed with all the tools needed, the doctor would trek from household to household, tending to the sick, wherever they were. An old-school home visit today would be impractical and a logistical nightmare, but telehealth has resurrected the house call that, for over a century, has fallen out of favour.
It isn’t as intimate as seeing the doctor in the flesh, but this modern iteration of a bygone practice enables doctors to glean information they wouldn't otherwise have access to. It also makes things easier for the patient to be able to seek treatment at home via a videoconference and have medication delivered right to their doorstep.
For Lim Wai Mun, the 39-year-old founder of Doctor Anywhere, telehealth is not a business, but a tool. “Telehealth isn’t going to replace the existing healthcare system, but it will enhance it,” says Lim. “It’s a feature that fixes the straightforward problems like flu or eczema, allowing the doctors in clinics to spend more time on the real, complicated issues. The connectivity also helps doctors keep in constant contact with patients to ensure that they are disciplined enough to take their medication.”
Lim spent eight years at Temasek Holdings, where he helped to conceptualise and establish a liquified natural gas company called Pavilion Energy, before seeing the need for telehealth. Interestingly, it was something he had thought of before realising that similar concepts were available (he didn’t want research to taint his point of view). “I felt validated in a way,” he continues. “I wasn’t the only one rooting for this crazy thing.”
Today, Doctor Anywhere is the only telehealth company working with multiple insurers. It is also based in multiple locations, having expanded to Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. It also launched a mental wellness arm in October 2020, where qualified counsellors and psychologists are just a video chat away, a great call, considering the stigma surrounding mental health. The home setting alleviates any anxiety or discomfort that these patients may feel.
Before Doctor Anywhere, were you always searching for a greater meaning to life?
Lim Wai Mun (LWM): I wouldn’t say that. As with most of us, the first thing we think of when we wake up each day, is ourselves – our careers, friends and relationships. But at Temasek, we were encouraged to give back, otherwise we wouldn’t get our bonus. Once you participate, you start to realise that the world is a lot bigger than you. You start to appreciate the simplest things and you stop thinking about the worldly things that some people don’t have access to, like shoes. That was how Doctor Anywhere started. It wasn’t a revolutionary way to make a lot of money. It was formed on the basis of what I could do to help out a little with my own money, and eventually, one thing led to another.
Historically, getting to know a person’s needs has always been associated with physical presence and proximity. How does Doctor Anywhere administer the best and most accurate care possible in a virtual environment?
LWM: Until technology allows a hand to reach out through a screen – don’t laugh, because a lot of things are possible – it’s still impossible to break that barrier right now. But what’s lacking in physical presence is made up for by accessibility and affordability. Quality is one of the most important aspects in healthcare. Can a doctor maintain the quality of assessment and treatment? If a diagnosis can’t be made over a telehealth setting, we will refer you to see a doctor in person. Out of every 100 consultations, five of them are referrals.
What does tomorrow mean for you?
LWM: It brings me hope that we’ll have become a company that cares more about attracting and building talent, that we truly become one whole company of ‘smart creatives’. Smart creatives are A-star creatures in the company. You don’t have to tell them what to do. They are basically the founders themselves, ready to build the company. It’s like the story of Google. Its success isn’t solely because of Larry and Sergey, but the people. So the point here isn’t about revenue, but a dream to have a conglomerate of smart creative people come together and do something that can change the world.Doctor Anywhere