Aging societies, rising lifestyle concerns and a growing middle class are fuelling fresh interest in healthcare across Asia.

The Well Economy: APAC Edition,” the latest report from The Innovation Group, examines how health has grown to include everything from mental health to sexual health and more. At the same time, patients are acting more and more like consumers and the medical world is borrowing from the lifestyle sectors.

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Seijo Kinoshita (Green) Hospital in Tokyo

In Asia particularly, new players are starting to disrupt health care as they did retail and logistics—by exploiting inefficiencies. Health care, the most human of services, is seeing new non-human intermediaries in the form of tracking and coaching apps, and new ways of paying and insuring that both transcend geography and are effective on a mass scale.

For example, in China, Ping An Good Doctor is shortening wait times by connecting patients with a nationwide network of thousands of hospitals, clinics and pharmacies through its mobile platform. In Indonesia, Go-jek, a ride-hailing app, is delivering medicine from pharmacies to patients’ homes.

To understand how consumer attitudes to health are changing, and what it means for brands, we commissioned a survey of 2,500 consumers from five countries – China, Japan, Australia, Thailand and Indonesia – between Sept 13th and 20th by our in-house data unit SONAR™.

Key findings include:

  • 72% of survey respondents say they live a healthier lifestyle than they did in the past. 80% say they try to stay in shape and 79% say they pay attention to food labels.
  • 71% of respondents associate health with mental health, outstripping the 68% that associate health with overall physical condition. Only half associate health with being sick or not sick.
  • Consumers consider stress and anxiety as the top risk factor to becoming ill (73%), followed by an unhealthy lifestyle (alcohol, smoking, diet, etc. at 66%)
  • 80% say there is an opportunity for hospitals to be updated to make them nicer to spend time in
  • 66% say they would go to the doctor more often if there weren’t such long wait times
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Erin Chen speaking at Spark Fest

We also talked to experts and found that topics once considered shameful or simply not discussed in public – such as mental, sexual and gut health, are shedding their taboos. Earlier this year, Singapore hosted Asia’s first sexual wellness and technology festival, Spark Fest, featuring 20 speakers, workshops, a marketplace for “love and play” products, food, art and music.

Meanwhile, in Australia, food and drink thought to keep the gut biome healthy are hitting grocery shelves. This year, a Melbourne couple who started Remedy Kombucha, a sparkling, fermented drink brand, from their kitchen bench, sold a stake of the business to Australian brewing giant Lion Dairy & Drinks.

And finally, Clinics and hospitals are starting to look less clinical. For example, Seijo Kinoshita (Green) Hospital in Tokyo, completed last year, is anchored by a lush, landscaped courtyard, with wooden, organically-shaped furnishings in the reception area and expansive windows in private rooms that allow for ample natural light.

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Bangkok Dusit Medical Services

Health is no longer limited by geography, with an increasing number of people willing to cross borders for everything from plastic surgery to cancer screening to life-threatening diseases. Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, which owns a chain of 45 hospitals and now gets a third of its revenue from foreign patients, is scheduled to open its BDMS Wellness Clinic early next year in a former hotel in Bangkok’s central business district.

It will include a dedicated Digestive Wellness Clinic, in addition to departments such as neurology, cardiology and dental, to be managed by Swiss-based Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts.

Download The Well Economy: APAC Edition for more.