In order to bridge some gaps in users’ expectations and Indonesia’s healthcare system, we attempt to reimagine the journey by looking into Indonesians’ attitude towards healthcare, the government’s equalitarian approach to its people’s health and some healthtech movements.


Online survey: 219 respondents
In-depth interviews: 8 respondents

The government took a bold and ambitious move in 2014 to provide universal health coverage for its people; one of the biggest in the world, so no one is left behind. However, there has been much criticism in the way it is implemented.

During this unprecedented time, albeit a tad slow in action to react, the government has started putting into place some measures, especially in the area of medical research and biotech.

According to the World Bank data, Indonesia only allocates around 0.08 percent of its GDP to R&D from 2013. However, the Jokowi administration has bumped the figure to 0.24% in 2018 (highest in the country’s history!), but this is still low compared to 2.19 percent in Singapore and 1.26 percent in Malaysia.

Despite the government’s attempt to provide equal healthcare to all yet feeble investment in R&D, the disparity in treatment still exists today; continued import of foreign goods around healthcare due to the low R&D, unequal access to technology and information, seeking treatment overseas for those who can afford it, to name a few.

As much as there is some effort taken by the government, it appears that there are still some holes to fill.

Supplements and Remedies
Indonesians appetite for vitamins is relatively small; its average consumption is about 5 years behind Thailand’s. Most Indonesians consume supplements only when they are under the weather instead of as a preventative health measure. This behaviour has been changing slowly but rapidly accelerated due to the COVID pandemic that shook the world into re-looking quickly and deeper into self-care.

56% of Indonesia’s population now consumes more vitamins & jamu. In our conversations with consumers, there seems to be a preference for natural herbal remedies or supplements, with a strong belief that the chemicals in pharmaceutical drugs or supplements produce harmful side effects. Mom’s home remedies are heavily relied upon, with no-questions-asked, and those are typically natural herbal-based too.

Consumers are conflicted in the supplements realm. They know supplements are good for boosting health yet they cannot seem to find the motivation to consume it on a daily basis, mainly because of inconvenience if they are natural (preferred) as they need to be prepared, or considered artificial and not beneficial over the long run if it is convenient (vitamins).

Online Services
Many consumers, with access, are getting exposed to online medical consulting services, home-based fitness activities, and the likes, in order to keep oneself and family members healthy and well. Although online medical consulting services save time and effort, consumers have not crossed the barrier of seeing them as fully credible yet. For those who (71% of those surveyed) use them, it is more for validation or simply to get more information.

Businesses are reacting with agility by pivoting to offer their services online, from gym-based to home-based workouts to Airbnb online experiences to jamu deliveries. We can’t help but wonder how this will change the business model landscape once all this blows over?

Source: Mobile Marketing Association

Somia did some online listening last month that captured “How COVID has changed the way Indonesians live and breathe?”.

A recent online survey Somia conducted with 219 respondents revealed that a third looked for healthcare-related information online daily, and their common source is via social media and, their family and friends.

Forming Healthy Habits
Cultivating healthy habits like resting sufficiently and well is another area of care. Many working adults in Indonesia work long hours and do not get enough time for proper rest and exercise. With working-from-home, most people do not need to travel to work, but has this made things better or worse in the area of rest?

Exercise is one of the biggest lifestyle changes we witnessed since COVID broke. Fitness clubs have also started offering their classes online, as mentioned earlier.

Does having more time at home means people are resting more or has screen time increased instead? Drawing a line of when to stop work and start resting seems to be a struggle amongst the people we chatted with.

Will people’s behavioural changes sustain way past the pandemic? How might we create longevity for people’s care for self and others?

Mental Wellness
What seems to be missing in most conversations is mental wellness. Exhaustion, inequality, lack of access, among the others, lead to a divisive and toxic society. With a population of 270 million, there are less than 1,000 psychiatrists. This means each psychiatrist is serving a staggering 200,000 to 350,000 people when ideally, each psychiatrist should serve about 30,000.

What doesn’t help is the stigma around mental health problems. This makes people not want to talk openly about it for fear of the discrimination they may face. Instead of depending on the government to provide help immediately, is there something we can do individually, ground up?

How might we encourage Indonesians to take a more holistic approach to their wellness?

When asked about their thoughts on the current healthcare system, 67% of the surveyed answered that they do not trust the healthcare system. However, during our interviews, most are generally satisfied, but with three main areas they desire to see improvement:

  1. Indonesians perceive a difference in the standard quality of healthcare providers depending on where they are from. This makes searching for a doctor longer and harder than it needs to be.
  2. Most misplaced their medical test results and to request for a copy is too much of a hassle, especially if this was some time ago. To remove any guesswork during the diagnosis, cater for integrated medical records so that healthcare providers have access to the patient’s medical history.
  3. The biggest pain point in BPJS is the registering process and the waiting involved. Those who want to use BPJS mentioned that they have to be very early.

We captured the existing Patient Journey Map here below based on what we hear from our respondents.

With the above findings, we set out to dream, wonder, explore and ponder… what would it look like if our healthcare system were to be more empathetic and inclusive? We do not think these ideas to be too blue-sky. With internet penetration, rapidly evolving technology, and a growing economy, here’s an exploration of what we believe systems and technology can merge and offer.

If you would like to download the PDF file of this entire article plus the slides, click right here!