How healthtech start-up Doctor Anywhere is redefining Southeast Asia’s healthcare scene with the organisation’s 2.5 million users

With NetSuite’s cloud-based services, Doctor Anywhere unifies siloed operations and taps into real-time data to power its rapid regional growth and innovation

Doctor Anywhere’s chief executive officer Lim Wai Mun says that NetSuite’s cloud-based services has helped his team tap into data, enabling them to gain critical insights to assess what the business’ next steps should be. PHOTO: ORACLE NETSUITE

As the first company in Singapore to launch online supervised antigen rapid testing (ART) or tele-ART services in January, technology-led healthcare company Doctor Anywhere was quick to fill a need in the market. 

With the launch, the unprecedented surge in demand for the service came as a surprise for founder and chief executive officer Lim Wai Mun and his team.  

Using live data available on its platform, he could see that demand far outstripped what Doctor Anywhere could supply.

The astute businessman instantly knew that the firm had to rapidly scale up its resources to meet the demand, which was increasing day by day – which included hiring more medical staff, purchasing new laptops, and rapidly training tele-ART supervisors to keep up with the exponential demand. 

“When I saw the live data, the urgency to scale up our operations became apparent. It was because we had this data, we were able to act on it quickly and grow the business,” he says. 

Without this data, he believes they would not have been able to cope and get ahead of its competitors, which were rolling out the same service. As a result of his speedy action, Doctor Anywhere has since recorded close to 100,000 tele-ART transactions to date. 

As a fast-growing regional healthcare company, there is a need for agility, efficiency, and visibility of its operations. Its tele-ART strategy marks precisely this nimbleness and readiness to quickly identify market opportunities and roll out new innovations to meet consumers’ needs.   

Mr Lim recalls his original idea for Doctor Anywhere – to deliver medical aid without patients having to leave their homes – did not take off immediately. People were hesitant to entrust something as personal as healthcare to an online service provider. To overcome this, he knew they had to tap an “omni-channel” approach so the team set up physical clinics to provide a face-to-face presence where consumers could grow to know and trust the brand. 

To date, Doctor Anywhere’s platform has grown to approximately 2.5 million users across Southeast Asia and operate nine physical clinics in Singapore.

“We grew our company from three of us in a 200 sq ft office in 2017 to 550 employees in Southeast Asia. It was a very big undertaking and took a lot of support from our shareholders, as well as partnerships with insurers and healthcare providers. We were also the first in the industry to do series A, B and C funding,” says Mr Lim, 40, who has a background in private equity.

These are the typical rounds of funding a start-up goes through. Securing series C funding shows that a company is operating successfully and is ready to expand into new markets.  

Attaining this funding allowed the company to scale its offerings further but it also brought about fresh challenges. 

“We thought that with funding, we could do a lot more. But as we started hiring more people, we didn’t have a system to manage our operations and processes in place. It was also hard to implement a system when you’re hiring new people and managing them,” shares Mr Lim. 

The young start-up faced an expanding workforce, siloed operations systems, and a lack of real-time data to inform its strategy to advance in a fast-evolving landscape. 

Business management software NetSuite provides companies like Doctor Anywhere accounting, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, inventory, and e-commerce services. PHOTO: ORACLE NETSUITE

Fortunately, Mr Lim was quick to recognise that having a software that unifies its operations management could solve some of his most pressing challenges. 

Doctor Anywhere was using separate systems for accounting and human resource management, which could not be easily integrated with other internal systems such as its Clinic Management System and DA Care.

This prompted a search for a new system that could perform multiple functions. It eventually led to NetSuite, a business management software company headquartered in America that provides accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), inventory, and e-commerce services. 

Since January 2021, Doctor Anywhere has been using the accounting and financial functions of the system. 

What has been most helpful so far is being able to obtain up to date financial reports from NetSuite, says regional financial controller Geoffrey Teo, who oversees the accounting and financial controls for the company.

Having ready access to financial data provides critical insights for him and the team to assess what the business’ next steps should be. 

It is certainly useful for pulling financial data from a single source of truth when it is making a pitch to potential investors for funding, says chief financial officer Edwin Basuki.

“Having a good oversight and overview of financial operating data is very important. We are going through a project which involves putting all the information into a single data lake that allows us to extract the data in a consistent fashion,” he adds. 

With success, comes new challenges

Despite initial growing pains, Doctor Anywhere expanded in 2018 to Vietnam, its first overseas market, just a year from its launch. 

But it went beyond duplicating a successful business model, with Mr Lim realising that it is necessary to hire a local team that understands the market in Vietnam. 

“We initially brought the same concept that we have in Singapore, where people use our app to consult general practitioners. However, it was a completely different landscape where the Vietnamese go to pharmacies instead of seeing a doctor for their illnesses. So, we launched a tele-pharmacist function where people could purchase medicine and consult pharmacists,” he says.  

The onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic, which necessitated people to stay at home, further accelerated Doctor Anywhere’s growth and it was able to expand rapidly to Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. 

“Having a solid platform was key to support our regional growth and expansion into other countries,” adds Mr Basuki. 

NetSuite allows businesses to manage the accounts of a company’s business such as multiple subsidiaries, business units, and domestic and international legal entities from its platform. It also offers multicurrency functions, and the system can also work out different country tax codes. 

“Through NetSuite, we can consolidate across different markets and businesses. We can generate a monthly report to obtain insights into business performance across the markets,” says Mr Basuki. 

A system that powers overseas expansion 

Over the last couple of years, Doctor Anywhere has grown close to three times year-on-year. Implementing NetSuite has given it a booster shot, granting it the visibility and agility to establish a presence in six countries across Southeast Asia. 

It recently integrated NetSuite’s funds transfer functions for international currencies and fixed asset management. Payroll and expense claims are currently being outsourced but Mr Basuki says they have plans to integrate those functions as well. 

Next up is to integrate inventory management by the last quarter of this year and customer relationship management, adds Mr Teo. 

Mr Lim says: “When we look at how the business has grown to our current size, without NetSuite, it would be much more difficult to track. NetSuite lets us see how our business is performing on a live basis and helps us with decision-making.”  

And he plans to continue leveraging it to obtain data, increase productivity, and reduce costs. 

He also intends to build the business’ technology capabilities, hiring more people to fill technical and medical services roles, innovate, and develop industry benchmarking products.

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