SINGAPORE’S healthcare system has to move from focusing on episodic care to taking a more holistic approach. This was highlighted by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at The Economist’s Healthcare in Asia 2012 conference yesterday. As Singapore’s population ages, the prevalence of chronic diseases is likely to increase, thus requiring new models of care to provide long-term support. This is unlike diseases in the past, which were more episodic in nature due to a younger population.
By 2030, 20 per cent of Singaporean residents will be aged 65 and above. The conference, which was attended by local and foreign healthcare experts, dealt with healthcare reforms in Asia as well as the implications and feasibility of an outcome-oriented healthcare system in both developing and developed countries in Asia.
Mr Gan described how such an approach could help Singapore’s development into a medical hub. “The Singapore healthcare system is still very much a work in progress,” he said. “We have to understand the needs of patients before developing facilities to meet these needs. More of the same will not do.” Charles Goddard, editorial editor of the Economist Intelligence Unit in Asia-Pacific, said: “There is a need to create better clinical outcomes from healthcare.”
This is in contrast to current international healthcare standards that revolve around performance and broad-based targets, such as reducing the waiting time in hospitals. The challenge, said Mr Gan, is in doing more with less and improving outcomes at lower costs. He said: “It is not how much we spend on healthcare, but how we spend the least resources to achieve the best outcomes.”
Mr Gan also presided over the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Singapore’s Health Science Authority and Malaysia’s Ministry of Health that will further develop pharmaceutical regulation between the two countries.