Seah expects the pandemic to lead to a greater focus on preventative medicine, which he describes as an underdeveloped middle ground between hospitals and clinics—set up for major illnesses—and the wellness side of gyms and pharmacies. Within this space, he is excited about the potential AI offers in enabling the development of personalised treatment for individuals that is both affordable and accessible.
Tang agrees that personalised medicine is likely to be an area of growth, with genetic testing providing people with data that helps them understand their particular vulnerabilities and potential treatments. “Once you have the data, there are any number of ways you can leverage it to live a better life,” he says.
Despite its huge potential, the health technology sector is not without risks, and the recent spike in interest from investors has led to high valuations for many companies. Tang thinks this is particularly the case in the secondary market: “There is so much liquidity in the market and tech is the new frontier.” He advises investors to look for companies that address real problems.
Ho also warns that there can be a policy overhang between breakthroughs in R&D and applications and treatments becoming available to the public, which can lead to volatility in valuations.
For investors interested in getting into the sector, Ho expects to see an increase in the number of specialist health tech investment funds available in the next few years. In the meantime, he stresses the importance of having a diversified portfolio with varied exposure.
“We’re looking at three broad categories within the healthcare sector: R&D, because this part of the vertical is high risk, high return; treatment and diagnosis, because this is usually the first line of application for the results of R&D; and efficiency, such as tele-medicine and systems that can integrate people’s information so they can have better healthcare services and reduced supply chain costs.”