The '3 Beyonds': Singapore's strategy to sustain quality healthcare as demand rises

The '3 Beyonds' strategy was introduced by the Ministry of Health to keep healthcare in Singapore good and affordable. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore - The Ministry of Health (MOH) has come up with a solution to keep healthcare here both good and affordable into the future. It calls it the "3 Beyonds":

Beyond healthcare to health

A healthier nation requires less of the healthcare system. In recent years, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has stepped up efforts on this front, such as by getting people to opt for healthier meals. The authorities have also launched a "war" against diabetes as well as highly subsidised health screening for people who are 40 years and older.

Some heartening results include:

- Sales of the HPB's Healthier Dining Programme's lower-calorie meals rose from 7.5 million in 2014 to 26 million last year.

- More than 4,000 stalls in 70 hawker centres and 600 coffee shops now offer at least one healthier option.

- More than 300,000 have signed up for the National Steps Challenge by the end of October. The target is 500,000 this year.

Beyond hospital to community

Care for patients go beyond hospitals. The idea is to let them receive appropriate care in the community or at home so they can stay well and avoid frequent hospital admissions.

This includes post-discharge visits to patients' homes by nurses and care workers to ensure that they remain well. This is done for patients who are deemed at risk of frequent readmission to hospital.

This is better for the patient in terms of health and convenience, and for the healthcare system too, as hospital care is very expensive.

Beyond quality to value

This is an effort to retain or increase quality of care while ensuring value for money.

The Agency for Care Effectiveness (ACE) was set up in 2015 to research treatments that provide the best value for money.

For example, three drugs may offer the same results, but have very different prices. Or a drug may be more expensive, but offer outcomes that are far better than cheaper alternative drugs.

Such information is disseminated in detail to doctors who may not have the time to do their own research. The ACE recommendations will also be adopted in the public sector.

The introduction of fee benchmarks is another effort to keep a lid on spiralling healthcare costs. This recommended fee structure will be decided together with doctors, hospitals and other stakeholders.

Such benchmarks not only give doctors a yardstick against which to measure their prices, but also give patients an idea of the cost.

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