The healthcare industry is at the frontline of the battlefield against COVID-19. While many countries put primacy in supporting the sector, certain healthcare segments appear to be more vulnerable as many governments continue to implement quarantine measures. In InfoCom’s latest report on the impact of COVID-19 to Philippine businesses, small and medium enterprises (SME) are particularly at risk and susceptible to disruptions. In fact, most small businesses we spoke with in the healthcare sector expect at least 50% revenue loss for 2020 because of the said measures. Key factors identified include decrease in foot traffic (due to lockdown measures and limited transportation options for patients), hesitancy from the public to avail healthcare services due to perception that they might contract the virus in clinics, and lower demand from corporate clients for physical exam/standard diagnostic procedures (due to retrenchment or even lower number of new hires).
Nonetheless, we are seeing more SMEs trying to adapt to this challenging situation. As our study found out, while revenue expectations are mostly negative for the healthcare sector in 2020, ICT spending will remain largely unchanged. This indicates that some businesses are keen to continue investing on digital solutions to manage business disruptions. In particular, most small healthcare providers we spoke with are planning to increase spending on mobile plans due to the increasing usage of social media services such as Viber or Facebook Messenger used to conduct tele-consultation or general communication with patients. There are also a few who are investing on videoconferencing solutions, while others are eyeing to avail or develop their own telehealth platforms to facilitate patient scheduling and release of medical results.
To help businesses with the transition, InfoCom recommends ICT providers to proactively offer professional and consulting services to this sector. In particular, needs exploration and on-boarding processes are crucial elements to consider, as most SMEs have limited or even no regular IT personnel to asses their IT landscape. Ensuring service reliability is also another factor to consider especially for broadband services in areas where these businesses are located. In terms of ICT services, we are seeing high potential for mobile and fixed broadband bundles with videoconferencing and collaboration services such as MS Teams or Zoom. Digital payments, telemedicine platform, and even smart health devices are likewise seen to grow steadily even as COVID-19 cases wind down.
InfoCom is actively monitoring global ICT initiatives as we navigate through these challenging times. Discover more of InfoCom's industry-specific analysis and trends on ICT usage and services by clicking here.