Singapore 'could lead world to future model of healthcare'

People here more open to using technology to improve healthcare experience: Accenture

Singapore could well lead the world to the healthcare model of the future, said technology consulting firm Accenture.

It conducted a healthcare attitude survey in Singapore, Japan and Australia earlier this year and found that people here were more open to using technology to improve their healthcare experience. They were also more inclined to take charge of their own medical needs.

The firm surveyed 750 people in each of the three countries on their health preferences, and all respondents had at least one interaction in a healthcare setting in the past year.

Results of the survey were released on Wednesday at the Innovating Care Asia Pacific 2016 conference at Suntec.

More people in Singapore are at ease with using technology to improve their healthcare experience than in Japan and Australia. Not surprisingly, younger people in all three countries are more comfortable with using technology in healthcare.

The survey found that 57 per cent of people here are willing to pay for a home health-monitoring kit if it gave them faster access to treatment. The proportion was 44 per cent in Australia and 39 per cent in Japan.

This could have been influenced by the fact that more people here are unhappy with what they viewed as long waiting times to get an appointment and to see a doctor.

Generally, more Australians are satisfied with the healthcare system in their country than are Singaporeans and Japanese - in terms of both family doctors and specialists, as well as convenience in getting treatments.

Singaporeans (78 per cent) and Australians (75 per cent) are also more likely to want to take charge of their own health, compared with the Japanese (40 per cent).

This is important, Accenture said in its survey report: "Not only can consumer-directed care relieve the burden on healthcare systems, but it can also improve health outcomes by empowering individuals to take charge of their health."

The consulting firm estimates that for just one chronic ailment - diabetes - self-monitoring could save US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) a year in the United States.

The survey found that people here were also highly conscious of the need to stay healthy, with 56 per cent wanting a health coach and 80 per cent wanting a virtual health assistant to help them make healthier lifestyle choices.

Accenture said Singapore needs to make the most of people's willingness to embrace consumer-directed healthcare innovations.

It said: "Singapore has low healthcare spending per capita, reflecting its world-leading level of healthcare efficiency. Its residents are also the most open to change, technology, self-service and innovation in healthcare.

"If Singapore can find ways to use these twin strengths to drive greater transformation, it could lead the world to the healthcare model of the future."

Per capita healthcare expenditure here is US$2,507. It is US$3,966 in Japan and US$6,110 in Australia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore 'could lead world to future model of healthcare''. Print Edition | Subscribe