Stay on top with latest medical tech

Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock hit the nail squarely on the head when he said Singapore may not remain a regional medical hub for long, since our neighbours are far cheaper and are closing the gap in terms of medical advancement and modern facilities ("Role models lost when doctors go private"; Aug 22). 

Staying ahead of the competition requires us to go into research, refine new skills and introduce state-of-the-art technology. 

Our population grew from 1.9 million to 5.5 million since independence. Unfortunately, as population growth slows, the number of Singaporeans aged 65 and above will increase rapidly.

Degenerative diseases will hit elderly Singaporeans hard. Based on current trends, we are going to be growing old faster than any other society in the world.

The number of ageing citizens has doubled from 220,000 in 2000 to 440,000 now, growing to an anticipated 900,000 in 15 years. 

Our focus must be on offering world-class facilities staffed by highly trained medical specialists and healthcare workers.

Age-related conditions such as osteoarthritis (OA) are a leading cause of disability worldwide.

An innovative treatment option for adults living with early to mid-stage OA is partial knee resurfacing.

This procedure is now available in the private sector; it is powered by a robotic arm interactive orthopaedic system which makes consistently reproducible precision a reality. 

Only the diseased portion of the knee is resurfaced while the patient's healthy bone and surrounding tissues are spared. 

This will expedite the ideal positioning of the implant to offer a more natural feeling for the knee after the operation. 

A faster recovery, and consequently shorter stay in hospital, is possible, compared with conventional knee replacement surgery. 

This new technology will assist in rapid relief from pain to restore the patient to his daily activities. 

Another benefit is that this procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis. 

Since we cannot compete with lower-cost countries such as Malaysia and Thailand on price, such cutting- edge technology must be promoted overseas by the Government to develop Singapore into a regional medical hub. 

Our focus must be on offering world-class facilities staffed by highly trained medical specialists and healthcare workers. 

There is already excellent research capacity in teaching hospitals in the public sector. 

If there is greater collaboration with private medical/surgical specialists, we can stay ahead of increasing competition from our neighbours for overseas patients.

Medical tourism also has its benefits for Singapore, with the accompanying relatives spending additional tourist dollars; this would certainly contribute to our gross domestic product.

Jeffrey Chew Tec Hock (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2015, with the headline 'Stay on top with latest medical tech'. Print Edition | Subscribe