Recognise desire for best and latest in tackling rise in healthcare costs

With ordinary products such as cars, the very rich ride in Rolls-Royces, and the less wealthy go for small, affordable cars. This is the norm.

But when it comes to healthcare, it is a different story.

A strong emotional element comes into the picture.

Everyone wants the best and the latest, irrespective of the affordability.

This is surely one of the factors linked to the exponential rise in healthcare costs as pharmaceutical companies respond to consumers' demand.

In addressing the issue of supply and demand for medical services, we need to take into account the reality that everyone desires, and is willing to pay for, what he sees as the best healthcare.

This is also related to the training of doctors, where there seems to be an overemphasis on specialists - perhaps because there appears to be a strong demand for them (Tailor medical training system to local needs, by Dr Leong Choon Kit; Oct 9).

Tweaking the system such that more generalists are produced will not resolve the issue of the demand for specialists.

There is a need for the best minds, from think-tanks for instance, to tackle the complex issue at its root.

A solution is required where people are provided with the confidence that the healthcare treatment they are getting is the most appropriate and, therefore, the best, even though it is not necessarily the latest or the most expensive.

George Wong Seow Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Recognise desire for best and latest in tackling rise in healthcare costs'. Print Edition | Subscribe