Looking South 2019 #1 – Advmeds

We start off the new season of Looking South by looking at one of the SMEs benefiting from the New Southbound Policy. Eric Gau chats with Advmeds Managing Director Johnson Huang about their expansion into Southeast Asia.

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Transcript below:

Eric Gau: Good morning, and welcome to Looking South on ICRT, the program where we look at the central government’s New Southbound Policy, and its effects throughout Taiwan. I’m Eric Gau, and today we are joined by Mr. Johnson Huang, the managing director of Advmeds, to talk about his company and how it’s been impacted by the Policy. Mr. Huang, welcome to the program.

Johnson Huang: Hi, how are you? Hello everyone!

Eric: I understand that Advmeds makes medical equipment and medical software solutions. Could you briefly tell our listeners a bit more about your company, and the services that you provide?

Johnson: Advmeds is a health IT company. We focus on supporting our partners in efficiently building up smart health technology. Actually, I started our company 7 years ago, and I started the first project of a mobile hospital information system. It’s a platform that you can simply register an account and then decide the scale of your information system. For example, if a small clinic chooses just a few models, they can be combined into a small clinic system. But if you are a big hospital, then you can choose more modules. So it’s simple, just like registering a Facebook account, and it’s a cloud system, so it’s easy to implement for those low-resource countries. All these things are designed like an ecosystem that brings in smart health technology. For example, we have a health kiosk that can collect users’ data, such as blood pressure, blood oxygen, pulse, blood temperature, EKG. We can use these kiosks to extend service from hospitals or clinics to the community. You can even do tele-medicine to talk face to face with a doctor. Such experience is what we practice in Taiwan, and it’s quite a success story.

Eric: I understand your company has teamed up with hospitals in Thailand and signed an MOU with a Malaysian firm. What made you want to expand into those markets specifically?

Johnson: I think Taiwan has always been a country that has started from manufacturing, and it is also known as a technology island. Since we don’t have much land, our high density of information and experience of providing medical services on the basis of national health insurance makes us a good medical service demonstration site. That’s our advantage, if we say we are from Taiwan. When I look into Southeast Asian countries, like Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, I was wondering why can’t we share what we have? For those developing countries, which are just like Taiwan decades ago, thinking of methods to improve medical efficiency and service quality, the Taiwan advantage is a great and open market for investment. That’s why we jumped into the market.

Eric: What were some of the challenges you encountered as you jumped into these markets? What kind of things did you encounter that you weren’t expecting?

Johnson: I would say the market results that the development of health policy appeared to be an area that needs support. So I would say the policy effect is the most difficult issue. But policy is something we can’t change. In our company, a so-called IT company, what we can do is how we can use the IT advantage to support for those things. The greatest challenge we can use IT to solve is something like the shortage in human resources or financial resources or human resource capacity. I think that’s something we can help.

Eric: Like you said, those government policies is something you can’t change. Is the Taiwan government doing anything to help you on that front? Is there any Taiwan agency doing anything to smooth the way for you?

Johnson: Recently, Taiwan has the New Southbound Policy. But before that, we already jumped into the market and invested some resources into the market. In recent years, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council and the Youth Start Project of the Ministry of Education, both invested with government resources, allow small start-up companies just like us to have a chance to up our exposure and opportunities. I know the market in Taiwan is small, that’s why we think we need to find out our advantage, which is medical informatics, which we can share. I will not say share or sell to the world, but we can also based on our experience to learn from the world and come out with a better solution to push into the market.

Eric: You said you’ve actually been in these countries for quite a while now. How has your business benefited or expanded since you entered the market, and what have you learned from these experiences?

Johnson: I would say that, because in Southeast Asian countries, there are a lot of different cultures. For example, in Malaysia they have Muslims, Indians, Malaysians. A lot of culture shock. Usually, the service that you provide you must combine with local partners to come up with a solution for them. In different countries at the moment, we do have different business models. Like in Malaysia, we basically focus more on banks or insurance markets, because it’s also some policy issues so we combined with their insurance service and hospital service together. I think that’s something different. But in Thai market, we usually deal with big groups, like BDMS, a 48-hospital chain. We have local partners, we stand behind them for those kind of health information support, we work with a local partner. In that kind of case, we use a subscription, we provide a service and they are the ones who represent us to provide the service.

Eric: What is something you wished you knew before expanding into these countries, and based off that, what advice do you have for other companies that are considering the move?

Johnson: From my experience, if you want to go into Southeast Asian countries, first of all you need to have an international outlook, an international view. For myself, every morning I will read some articles about what happened in Southeast Asian countries. Not just Southeast Asian countries, but also some news about global issues. Especially for young entrepreneurs, you need to have some internationalization abilities. You will need to have communication skills. And also, you have to focus on market trends. Just like there are a lot of policies from China, they do have One Belt One Road, and how it affects the Malaysia market. There is a lot of news you have to focus on to face future challenges. Another issue is that for companies without much resources, you need to work more with local partners. I think another issue is that you have to focus on your own advantage. Now it’s an open market, you need to focus on your advantage. Like I said, health service and information systems is one of the best from Taiwan, so that’s what we believe combined with these things is our advantage, how we share, how we provide. So you have to find out what’s your role in the market. And then it’s persistence. I think that’s something importance.

Eric: We’ve been chatting with Advmeds managing director Johnson Huang about his company’s expansion into Southeast Asia. Mr. Huang, thank you for joining us on the air today.

Johnson: Thank you, thank you everyone.

Eric: And that wraps up today’s episode of looking south. You can find this and past episodes on the ICRT Website or App under the podcast section. Be sure to join us next week as we look at a different aspect of the New Southbound Policy. I’m Eric Gau, and thank you for tuning in.

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