Why It Matters

A higher level of healthcare

When the Woodlands Health Campus opens in five years, it should take healthcare here to a higher level.

That has always been the case here - with every new hospital pushing the boundaries to raise productivity, improve patient care and experience.

As Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said at the campus' ground-breaking ceremony, it cannot just be "business as usual".

Some people may say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Or they may ask, why try to reinvent the wheel with each new hospital?

Those who think that way are short-sighted.

This practice is crucial, given that Singapore is facing a rapidly ageing population that will require more healthcare services, while dealing with manpower constraints. Doing things as we always have - even though such service has put us among the best in the world - would place us on a slippery slope as demand rises but supply doesn't.

Furthermore, it's not a matter of reinventing the wheel, but adopting better modes of transport. If we had been happy with the original wheel, we would probably still be travelling in horse carts. Instead, we not only have fast cars, but also airplanes and rockets.

So too we must improve healthcare, with all the latest technology to make the trip smoother and faster. If technology can monitor patients 24/7 - which nurses in a general ward can't - it would provide greater peace of mind.

And better doesn't mean only technology. If having a pleasant environment helps in the healing process and gets patients home faster, go for it.

And if patients can be treated at home instead of having to make frequent visits to the hospital, it would improve quality of life for the patient.

And if this means roping in community resources, so be it.

The bottom line is to keep the population as healthy as possible, with the best quality of life till the very end, in the most efficient and cost-effective way, so it's sustainable and available to all, rich or poor.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'A higher level of healthcare'. Print Edition | Subscribe