COVID-19 saw many healthcare institutions going through immense strain, but it also spurred the acceleration of digital solutions which have grown in both adoption and acceptance across the industry.
Almost three years since the start of the pandemic, it is safe to say that we are now well into the New Health Economy, where innovation and delivery of healthcare solutions are guided by patient and consumer needs.
Underpinning this healthcare transition is the increasing adoption and acceptance of HealthTech, largely viewed as a game-changer. From telemedicine to remote patient devices, HealthTech has played a key role in helping to provide patients with the support they need beyond a clinical setting and to bring healthcare into the home.
These developments will eventually lead to a more efficient and sustainable healthcare ecosystem, driven by the following trends that will take center stage this year:
Few would argue with the adage that prevention is better than cure. However, as markets such as Singapore experience aging populations and rising chronic diseases, healthcare systems are likely to face challenges along the way.
The good news is that the government is taking a proactive stance toward tackling these challenges before it is too late. Singapore’s strategic healthcare reform plan, HealthierSG, aims to empower citizens to take proactive care of their health. This initiative is expected to serve as the basis from which healthcare and medical industry players formulate and align their innovation, business, and operational objectives.
We are likely to see more initiatives being rolled out as the year progresses. Amid rising inflation and healthcare costs, the price of drugs will likely see increased scrutiny. Under HealthierSG’s enhanced drug subsidies, we will likely see prices become more comparable across public and private sectors. Keeping prices more affordable means that individuals will have greater access to the necessary medical peripherals, as well as care and maintenance options.
Additionally, with the launch of SG100K and other initiatives aimed at mapping the population’s genetic factors, future generations of Singaporeans will receive more personalized care. This will result in insights to better predict and prevent chronic diseases, and to maintain quality of life among aging Singaporeans.
While the shift from “sick care” to proactive care will not take place overnight, reform is well underway and will make great progress this year.
In 2022, we saw the integration of physical and digital experiences in healthcare, with the two ends of the pendulum culminating in the delivery of “phygital” healthcare services.
The last few years have accelerated the adoption of phygital healthcare, as patients and providers have turned to telemedicine and virtual consultations as a way to continue receiving and delivering care while maintaining physical distance.
That being said, while such services will continue to transform healthcare systems, face-to-face interactions will similarly continue to play an important role in healthcare. Digital players will pivot offerings to achieve a balance between the two; marking a sweet spot for the pendulum’s swing.
We are already seeing a number of innovations in this space. One example is the delivery of virtual hospital bed service with in-home sensors for patients. Such innovations help to address major challenges in healthcare, such as extending access to care for those in remote locations and neighborhoods.
The quality of healthcare has also significantly improved due to the efficiencies that phygital services offer. For example, doctors no longer must rush from one patient room or clinic to another, appointments can be booked virtually, and there are fewer queues for patients. This has allowed doctors to devote more time to treating and managing patients better.
Expect to see more of such phygital services, especially as healthcare technology continues to advance and providers look for ways to improve patient engagement and the delivery of care.
With the shift towards preventative and proactive health, more people are now encouraged to take an active role in managing their health. This is expected to strengthen in the year ahead, in line with growing adoption of wearable technologies driven by better and more accurate monitoring features.
As the concept of proactive care gains traction, the delivery of care outside of a clinical setting can be applied to other areas as well. Take for example the issue of medication harm, which accounts for 50 percent of the overall preventable harm in healthcare and remains an important item on the World Health Organization’s agenda.
At DKSH, our beyond-the-pill solutions include our nurse-educator service, which helps to bridge this gap by helping to instill confidence in patients to self-treat or self-medicate with one-on-one support and guidance.
Thanks to the proliferation of digital technologies, a majority of Singaporeans now prefer to take control of their own health and well-being and are becoming increasingly health conscious. This is likely to further drive beyond-the-pill initiatives and play a key role in the transition towards a proactive and preventative healthcare future for all.
The inevitable shift to patient-centered care bodes well for a future of healthcare that is both efficient and sustainable. As health systems increasingly center their efforts on driving self-accountability and self-responsibility, increased efficiencies, lower burdens, and improved outcomes will soon become a reality.
The original article was published in The Active Age on January 31, 2023: Article