Better preparation and tech aid: Patients to get more effective treatments as healthcare group transforms

From enhancing in-house clinical procedures to launching a multi-functional mobile app, IHH Healthcare is transforming care to deliver greater good to patients, people, the public and planet

IHH Healthcare is identifying and improving high-volume medical procedures to reduce time and cost to the patient for a better experience. PHOTO: IHH HEALTHCARE

When the Parkway East Hospital operations team realised that patients were having to repeat their colonoscopy due to inadequate preparation, they decided to work with the hospital’s endoscopists and the Value-driven Outcome (VDO) team to reduce these incidents.

This led to the creation of a short instructional video, Preparing for a Colonoscopy, which was published on the hospital’s website last October.

Within a month, the number of colonoscopy patients who had properly prepared for the procedure and did not have to repeat it improved by 4 per cent.

“Colonoscopy is a simple yet important diagnostic tool that aids in the screening and prevention of colorectal cancers by allowing doctors to detect small polyps and remove them before they turn cancerous. It is estimated that every 1 per cent increase in the detection of pre-cancerous polyps can decrease the patient’s future risk of colorectal cancer by 3 per cent. A clean bowel preparation is essential for a high-quality examination,” says Dr Melvin Look, general surgeon practising at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Parkway East Hospital.

This project is part of the hospital’s VDO initiative, a demonstration of IHH Healthcare’s philosophy of “Care. For Good.” in action by delivering greater good to patients, people, the public and planet.

By ensuring adequate bowel preparation, patients are spared from having to bear the cost, time and hassle of undergoing a repeat procedure.

Dr Prem Nair, chief executive officer of IHH Healthcare Singapore, adds: “VDO helps us build trust with patients by making healthcare transparent to them. Success is defined by better outcomes at the same cost or similar outcomes at a lower cost. This is how we deliver value to our patients.”

The healthcare group recently launched its sustainability goals and targets in September last year while marking its 10th anniversary of dual listing in Singapore and Malaysia.

IHH Healthcare’s managing director and chief executive officer Dr Kelvin Loh says the group aims to achieve 90 per cent of its value-driven outcomes at or above international benchmarks by 2025. PHOTO: IHH HEALTHCARE

“Trust is IHH’s true-north and is fundamental to what we do. One of the ways we earn the patient’s trust is by delivering value driven outcomes that focus on identifying and eventually predicting the outcomes and costs of our care,” says Dr Kelvin Loh, managing director and chief executive officer of IHH Healthcare.

“We have set for ourselves a specific target – to achieve 90 per cent of VDO at or above international benchmarks by 2025. The pandemic has redefined expectations of healthcare services and financing, and led to a growing demand from patients for value. As such, we have been diligently building our VDO projects,” he adds.

Besides Singapore, IHH is implementing VDOs across its key markets including Malaysia, Turkey, India, Brunei and Hong Kong.

Improving value from the patient’s perspective

By selecting high-volume medical procedures and conditions of significant health importance, IHH aims to create the greatest impact in improving the value of care across its services.

Another VDO project involves a structured post-surgery rehabilitation programme for patients undergoing total knee replacement surgeries at Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

This has reduced the duration of rehabilitation treatments patients had to undergo from one year to six months, which also saved costs for them.

Other VDO projects that IHH is working on include knee ligament repair surgery to restore range of motion, function and stability to the knee joint after an injury, and cardiac angioplasty to open clogged heart arteries.

Elevating the patient experience with technology

IHH is also making use of technology to improve the healthcare experience.

Last October, it launched MyHealth360 in Singapore – a mobile app that lets patients book appointments, seek teleconsultation, check and pay bills, as well as access health screening and lab reports.

Patients will be able to know the total hospital fees upfront and have access to financial counselling as IHH Healthcare seeks to maintain transparency. PHOTO: IHH HEALTHCARE

New features are constantly being added to the app, the latest being a symptom checker. The feature lets users get clear, clinically validated possible causes of their symptoms and the respective care options within minutes, instead of having to search for and sift through massive amounts of health information online.

The symptom checker solutions are also powered by artificial intelligence, which means the outcome is personalised to each patient based on the input provided.

“The app complements our brick-and-mortar services and enables us to deliver greater convenience to our patients, while empowering them to manage their healthcare journey. From before a procedure to follow-up care, we can continue to provide advice wherever the patient is,” says Dr Nair.

Embracing digital technologies is crucial for the healthcare group and IHH has allocated US$100 million over the next three years as part of its digital transformation journey.

Dr Prem Nair explains that the MyHealth360 app is designed to provide patients with a holistic healthcare journey even outside the hospital as they can check symptoms and get medical advice through it. PHOTO: IHH HEALTHCARE

MyHealth360 will be launched in Malaysia this year and progressively rolled out in the group’s other markets.

Earning trust through transparency

Amidst rising inflation, IHH is committed to being upfront with patients about hospital costs.

Every patient will receive financial counselling to help manage their expectations around potential medical bills.

Part of this effort includes an artificial intelligence-powered bill estimator used in Singapore and Malaysia hospitals, which predicts the patient’s final bill with 85 per cent accuracy, to allow patients to focus on their recovery with peace of mind.

By 2025, IHH aims to increase the level of accuracy to 90 per cent.

Other aspects of counselling include helping patients understand the coverage and scope of their personal or corporate insurance and wellness plans.

There are also fixed price packages for up to 200 procedures in Singapore and Hong Kong, including maternity services, Ear, Nose, Throat procedures and general surgery. The package prices are the final price and include everything from room charges and meals to laboratory testing and doctor’s fee, depending on the service.

“With rapidly rising inflation in Singapore and beyond, companies may typically just pass the costs on to the consumer. But IHH will do better than that. Through our VDOs, ongoing digital transformation and transparent approach with patients, we continue to deliver cost-effective care and earn their trust,” says Dr Loh.

Visit this website for more information.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.