Smarter eldercare - ensure value for money, keep eye on cost

A group of elderly attending an event at Bras Basah Complex.
A group of elderly attending an event at Bras Basah Complex.PHOTO: ST FILE

Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups have been motivated to tap the wider pool of opportunities offered by the Government's new plan to expand access to quality care in our community.

The use of artificial intelligence and Internet of Things is just one of many proposed plans to grow eldercare services to meet the rising demand in Singapore.

Several start-ups and SMEs are offering solutions that are customisable and enhanced by innovative technology.

In fact, some of them have started on these initiatives and have showed remarkable improvements in how we can bring healthcare services to the homes of our elderly.

To name a few, wearables have transformed the way patients are tracking and taking charge of the progress of their own health, and home-based care services and mobile doctors are a growing sight for a new way to deliver care to the homes of patients.

This will be doubly beneficial as more of our senior population become more digitally savvy and are able to tap the care opportunities provided by these technologies.

Although great strides have been made in home-based care, there have been increasing concerns about affordability and the lack of information.

In the light of rapidly inflating healthcare costs, more families are worried that they cannot afford the rising costs to receive appropriate and timely treatment to manage their conditions.

That leaves me wondering whether we can successfully build a smarter eldercare community for Singapore, or whether it will be at the expense of incurring an economic loss.

The Government should carefully evaluate the marginal utility per dollar invested into a smarter eldercare community.

Racia Yoong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2019, with the headline 'Smarter eldercare - ensure value for money, keep eye on cost'. Print Edition | Subscribe