The Changing Landscape Of Healthcare in East & SE Asia

Trends / Wellness
Marcus Chung
Kate Rourke
Aug 31, 2021
Demand for healthcare in East and Southeast Asia is growing rapidly. Aside from the enormous impact COVID‑19 is having, the growing aging population and the adoption of more sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles is contributing to this demand. WHO estimates that 20.3% of the population in Southeast Asia will be over the age of 60 by 2050, and that number will be slightly more in Singapore and Thailand. Overall, it is estimated that healthcare spending of the six ASEAN nations will increase by 70% over the next two decades, with an aging population and an increasing socioeconomic inequality being large contributing factors to this.  

8 in 10 people in East and Southeast Asia are making decisions on what healthcare brands to use based on the imagery they see, with many wanting to see people like themselves and their lives. 
Similar to what we are witnessing globally, a holistic lens on our health is rising in East and Southeast Asia across all ages. In Singapore, the Ministry of Health has been talking about three key health reforms which are “beyond the hospital to the community,” “beyond quality to value,” and “beyond health care to health.” Out‑of‑pocket costs in five ASEAN countries account for 44% of health expenditure, compared to the global average of 19%. It's no surprise that people are looking for different ways to manage and maintain their health.

The long standing tradition of the use of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, both grounded in a holistic approach to health means that lifestyle is as much of a focus as the medicine itself. Our Visual GPS research confirms that today, just 21% of people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia say they visit their allopathic (conventional, modern medicine) doctor, which is lower than the global average. Also, significantly 90% say they want to explore new and different wellness practices, compared to 77% globally.
Our Visual GPS research confirms that today, just 21% of people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia say they visit their allopathic doctor, which is lower than the global average 
Our ongoing research, pre‑COVID to today reveals that in East and Southeast Asia, mental, emotional, and social well‑being is as important as physical health. 93% said they would like to see more support for those with mental health issues, and a further 58% citing it is essential for their wellbeing to connect with family and friends. In the last year, we’ve also seen a 312% increase in our customers in East and Southeast Asia wanting to visualise “mental health.”
There is an opportunity for healthcare and wellness brands to respond to this growing demand. 

Look for visuals that not only explore different and new wellness practices, but also look to include the simple everyday pleasures we are all seeking, either with others or ourselves, to support our mental and emotional health during this time.

Choose imagery that moves beyond the hospital and into the community. Highlight how people are managing their health at home and within their communities.
We know from all our research that irrespective of age, ability, class, body shape or size, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, or culture, maintaining our health more holistically is important to us all. Therefore, showing a wide range of people in visuals as well as those different intersections of identity not only builds trust but increases a greater connection with the audience.
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