'Prevent rapid rise in healthcare costs'

There is a need to ensure the healthcare system is sustainable. This is being done in two ways - integration of healthcare facilities, and innovation through optimising design and workflow, Mr Chee said.
There is a need to ensure the healthcare system is sustainable. This is being done in two ways - integration of healthcare facilities, and innovation through optimising design and workflow, Mr Chee said.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Minister of State says Singapore must ensure demand is kept manageable to contain costs

Singapore must do all it can to prevent rapid increases in healthcare costs, Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat said yesterday.

Speaking at the fourth Healthcare Infrastructure Technology and Engineering conference (Hitec), he said the rapid increase in healthcare demand has been brought about by an ageing population.

He said: "If we continue business as usual, the rise in healthcare demand will become unsustainable.

"Given our limited manpower, land and financial resources, we must do all we can to prevent rapid increases in healthcare costs, as that will ultimately be borne by all Singaporeans through taxation, insurance premiums or medical fees."

URGENT ACTION NEEDED

If we continue business as usual, the rise in healthcare demand will become unsustainable.

MR CHEE HONG TAT, Minister of State for Health

The only ones to benefit then, Mr Chee said, will be medical equipment companies, drug suppliers and service providers.

There is a need, therefore, to ensure the healthcare system is sustainable. This is being done in two ways - integration of healthcare facilities, and innovation through optimising design and workflow, Mr Chee said.

About 300 delegates from around the world attended the two-day annual event. This year's theme was "Cost-effective hospital design: Doing more with less".

The Ministry of Health is also integrating care across the healthcare system, for instance, by locating community hospitals with acute hospitals, a strategy which will enable the sharing of resources and higher cost efficiency.

One such set-up is the new Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and the adjoining Jurong Community Hospital. More community hospitals will be located with existing or new acute hospitals in Outram, Sengkang and Woodlands, said Mr Chee.

New nursing homes are also being integrated to optimise land use, such as the Ren Ci Nursing Home in Bukit Batok, which is located with a senior care centre.

Mr Chee said the Ministry of Health Holdings has also embarked on initiatives, including the use of 3D digital modelling to pre-empt design flaws in the building of new hospitals, like the Yishun Community Hospital, even before construction starts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline ''Prevent rapid rise in healthcare costs''. Print Edition | Subscribe