Our team is comprised of a policy researcher, business analyst, data scientist, and medical student. Our members are highly experienced in their field and have a strong passion to bring their knowledge and skills to improve the healthcare access and inequality in Thailand.
Here are some of the pain points in the healthcare sector in Thailand that we observe:
— Small public hospitals, especially community hospitals and district health promoting hospitals, are severely underfunded and facing serious shortages of medical equipment.
— Thai people are very responsive to donation campaigns but often lack information on where all the needs are.
— No easy way exists to match these small public hospitals with potential donors.
Hence, the problem that we want to tackle is twofold: 1) reducing the severity of medical equipment shortages at small state hospitals; and 2) making sure that donations are actually going to the hands of those in need.
In 2018, the government budget allocation for medical equipment was around 2 billion baht. However, this amount of money was not enough to overcome the challenges faced by small public hospitals nationwide such as a lack of essential medical equipment and deteriorating medical facilities. Hospitals, especially Community Hospitals and District Health Promoting Hospitals, are suffering serious shortages of vital medical equipment such as ventilators, scanning machine, sterilizing machines, and patient trolleys. Although they submitted budget proposals requesting for these equipment every year, they so far have yet received everything they need. The shortage of medical equipment is one of the root causes resulting in other bigger challenges regarding access to public healthcare services. These include, but are not limited to, poor healthcare services, relocation of highly qualified and specialized doctors, and overcapacity.
Meanwhile, in 2017, Thai celebrity, Athiwara Kongmalai, aka “Toon Bodyslam”, launched a 2,191 kilometre charity run from Yala province to Chiang Rai. Through this campaign, he successfully raised over 1,300 million baht to purchase medical equipment for 11 state hospitals. The widespread public support for his plan shows that Thai people are very much willing to donate to support for improved medical services in state hospitals across the country. However, donations raised by Toon’s charity run will not be enough to bring about a meaningful improvement to state hospitals. And if we look closely at the list of hospitals that the money was given to, most of them were General and Regional Hospitals, leaving out smaller Community Hospitals who have limited channel to reach out to the public. Based on the TDRI’s study that Thai people donate 70 billion baht annually, we see the potential opportunity in the donation sector and feel that it would be much better if we have a central platform for small hospitals to reach out to donors directly and for donors to choose hospitals that they would like to support.
Our solution is to create an online donation platform connecting the forgotten 95% of Public Hospitals to potential donors. Through our platform, EqualCARE, hospitals can raise money to purchase medical equipment which will help diagnose, investigate, and treat patients. Donors can choose to donate money or join our virtual run campaigns. In return, they will be rewarded with annual health checkup packages. Our platform is data driven as we will incorporate analytical dashboard that allows users to find insights from the data. We will also leverage AI and machine learning techniques for many key features such as fraud detection (detecting fraud users and campaigns), chatbot (handling frequent tasks and answering common questions), personal recommendation (ranking campaigns according to donor’s likelihood to participate) and so on. We expect that our project will help increase the number of medical equipment, ease hospitals’ financial burden, and ultimately improve healthcare access and services across the country.
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