METI looks to promote digitalization of trade and health care in Asia

A model of High-quality health care: MEDRiNG Co

Kazuma Abe, director and CEO of Medring Co.

Medring Co., which aims to make affordable health care available to all people in Asia.

In Vietnam, access to health care is unevenly distributed. This situation is attributed to the uneven quality of medical services, which has led to distrust of regional clinics. This, in turn, prompts many patients to go to large hospitals. This just makes the situation worse, with health care workers concentrated at large hospitals with many patients. Aiming to help equalize the quality of health care across regions, Medring has set up a clinic that offers high-quality medical services at low cost by combining Japan’s medical know-how with digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence.

The initiative is being supported by METI via the Asia Digital Transformation program and has been adopted by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) as well. At an October 2020 signing ceremony during Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s visit to Vietnam, Medring, the only startup in attendance, signed an agreement memorandum with Japan Vietnam Health Bridge Co., which operates a health care business there, to support the operation of smart clinics.

Medring is collecting medical data using digital technology, including online diagnosis and electronic patient records, to develop an AI-based diagnosis service. Emerging Asian countries are often open to introducing AI and have no strict rules on the handling of diagnostic data, due in part to undeveloped health care systems. Partly because there are many growth markets in Asia, “It’s easier to create new businesses using digital technology in Asia’s emerging countries, rather than in Japan, and there’s more growth potential (in such countries),” said Kazuma Abe, director and CEO of Medring.

“Cocreation with local partners is a must” in expanding business in local markets, Abe said. “They are versed in local laws and regulations, as well as business practices, and can provide us with important know-how for expanding business in their regions.“

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