Independent research undertaken by Ho Chi Minh City-based agency Decision Lab has revealed that 45% of Vietnamese worry about their health every day, but for a variety of reasons, don’t do anything about it. Stepping into the void has been VieVie, the app-based healthcare company who are on a mission to bridge the gap between doctors and patients who would otherwise let their health concerns slide.
It’s obvious that doing nothing about a genuine health concern is not a good idea. Even when a complaint turns out to be harmless, be it an insect bite or a sore throat, the stress associated with not knowing can quickly escalate into full-blown anxiety. VieVie aims to reduce this by providing fast access to health professionals who are able to give simple, qualified medical advice and information on available treatment options via an easy-to-use app.
Is Your Lifestyle Good For You?
As Vietnam continues to develop at a rapid pace, people’s lifestyles are being stretched. The country’s surge towards economic prosperity is coming at a cost – the health and wellbeing of its citizens.
As incomes rise, you might expect that the standard of healthcare would improve, however, the opportunity cost has been people’s time, meaning health concerns arising from lifestyle factors including stress, poor nutrition and an increase in being sedentary (or desk-bound) for long periods are being ignored.
Worryingly, this has extended to young mothers, who may be struggling to balance the need to continue working while caring for a growing family, which might include a newborn baby. The time (and money) it takes to physically consult a doctor has become a barrier to getting even the most basic health advice. VieVie’s mission is to eradicate this, providing peace of mind by offering a trusted destination for people to turn to with any of their health concerns.
In the research undertaken by Decision Lab in June 2018, a broad cross-section of age groups from all over Vietnam were surveyed. Asked if they had any health worries, 45 percent said yes, at least one per day, while 6 percent said they worried about their health at least three times a day. Additionally, 41 percent of respondents said they worried about the health of their loved ones at least once a day, with 9 percent worrying about the health of someone else up to three times a day! Most common amongst the ailments causing concern were stress, respiratory illness, osteoarthritis and developing more serious illnesses.
41% of Vietnamese people worry about their health every day
In total, the survey uncovered a lot of health worries across a broad spectrum of the population in Vietnam with causation widely attributed to factors like environmental pollution, unclean food, stress and lack of exercise, particularly in the segment of the population over 40 years old.
Despite this clear recognition of the health problems facing individuals and their families, the research also uncovered a clear trend toward ignoring these concerns, translating to a tendency for people in Vietnam to ‘put off’ or ‘delay’ any kind of medical appointment until an undetermined date in the future.
One doctor consulting for VieVie, Dr. Le Thu Trang, had this to say in response to the research’s primary findings:
“Avoiding illness is part of the psychology of most people. Whenever they show symptoms they begin to worry about the cost of being absent from work, the inconvenience and discomfort of going to a hospital and the implications of what it might mean if the problem is serious.”
She went on;
“For these reasons, many people in Vietnam will tolerate a health problem until it becomes completely intolerable and the overall burden on themselves, their family and society at large is much bigger.”
The Cost of Living Well
When delving further into the results, we find that more than 50 percent of respondents cited ‘a lack of time’ as the main reason they failed to act on their health concerns. Indeed, across all demographics, being ‘time-poor’ was the number one reason people failed to go and see a doctor despite being worried about their health.
When you consider that visiting a doctor can take up to 2-3 hours including travel and waiting time, it’s not really a surprise, however, in reality, it isn’t just because people are low on time that they ignore their health worries. Aside from the experience of going to the doctor being less than desirable – think long waiting lines, poor service, crowded facilities and dubious qualifications of some doctors – finances also come directly into play.
Increasing demand for healthcare services is resulting in long waiting time to see a doctor
Traffic in Vietnam’s larger cities, such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is getting worse making it harder to access healthcare. The number of private vehicles in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City has increased by 35% annually in the past five years.
For many people in Vietnam, it remains expensive to visit a doctor. In addition, the widely-held perception is that Vietnamese doctors are heavily incentivized by pharmaceutical companies to over-prescribe unnecessary medications. This in itself has lead to the disturbing prevalence of people willing to self-diagnose on the internet, relying on Google to confirm that their symptoms are indeed harmless and ‘nothing to be worried about’.
Given the overall lack of understanding of even the most basic medicine in some parts of the country, this has led to some dangerous precedents, whereby patients have treated themselves without any consideration for the potential side-effects of widely available remedies.
Dr. Trang offered this,
“Through VieVie patients are advised by a highly trained doctor, who considers their individual medical history and acts as a companion, guiding individuals on the path to better health. Any information available on the internet is wholly unverified.”
A Rewarding Experience that’s Good For You
In addition to time and money, inconvenience, concerns about the quality of doctors in Vietnam and a general lack of understanding about how to approach a medical problem rounded out the top 5 reasons people are prepared to ignore their health worries.
VieVie responds to all of these factors by being transparent about the doctors on its online platform and by allowing patients to see their verified qualifications in the application. It also overcomes the inconvenience factor by connecting patients with doctors within 10 minutes of them sending a medical question, when one of VieVie’s verified panel members will respond via the applications chat function to provide advice that is standardized and specialized according to the patient’s needs.
“The ability to chat to patients in the app is very rewarding,” said Dr. Trang.
“I know that I am building trust by giving the right advice to pregnant mothers, the elderly and to parents of young children that in the past would not have happened. It’s as easy to use as Facebook and will prevent patients in isolated areas from relying on misleading information that is floating around online”
Start reducing your health worries by downloading the VieVie App today via the iTunes or Play Store on your Android or Smartphone. Share what worries you with us and let us help you figure out what you need to do.