Healthcare Manpower Plan 2020

S'pore on right track but can improve primary care: Expert

People waiting for their turns at a waiting room at Tampines Polyclinic.
People waiting for their turns at a waiting room at Tampines Polyclinic. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

When it comes to good-quality healthcare, Singapore is more or less on the right track, said healthcare guru Michael Porter yesterday.

But some restructuring needs to be done - including getting experts from various disciplines to work in teams, rather than in silos - if the sector is serious about boosting productivity.

For example, said Professor Porter, the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School, primary care in Singapore is still relatively underdeveloped.

"In Singapore, you haven't got robust primary care for everyone yet," he said.

"You have polyclinic care, and that's a good effort, but there are a lot of solo general practitioners."

It will take an entire team, not just a single doctor, to make sure that a person gets top-quality care which takes into account their social and financial situations, he said.

This also means that healthcare staff should be deployed in a manner that ensures patients receive well-rounded care, rather than be segregated by medical speciality.

Prof Porter, a well-known academic on health matters, was speaking at the National Seminar on Productivity in Healthcare, which was held yesterday at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

In his keynote address, he stressed the importance of making full use of each individual's skills to improve productivity - something that Singapore's Health Ministry is also trying to encourage.

"Nurses can do a lot of things really well and, in fact, some things they can do better than a doctor," he added.

Linette Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore on right track but can improve primary care: Expert'. Subscribe