Singapore's Healthcare Embraces Digital Tech to Address Staff Shortages and Boost Efficiency.

01 December 2023 | Friday | News

Philips Future Health Index 2023 Report
Image Source : Public Domain

Image Source : Public Domain

  • 75% of healthcare leaders (vs 56% globally) in Singapore are already using, or planning to use, digital health technology to reduce the impact of healthcare workforce shortages.
  • A hospital/facility being at the forefront of AI is an important consideration by younger healthcare professionals when choosing where to work.
  • Investments in AI and virtual care are powering new care delivery models to enhance efficiencies across healthcare, benefitting patients, healthcare staff and the environment, supporting the Healthier SG strategy.

 Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today announced the Singapore findings of its Future Health Index (FHI) 2023 reportTaking Healthcare Everywhere, which shows that Singapore's health sector is at the forefront of digital technology adoption to address healthcare workforce challenges and improve efficiencies in healthcare delivery across healthcare settings (from hospital to home and into the community), benefitting both patients and healthcare staff while enabling a more environmentally sustainable health industry.


"This latest report shows that Singapore has been making steadfast progress in healthcare digitalization," says Ivy Lai, Country Manager, Philips Singapore. "Continued investment in digital transformation in 2024 and beyond is key to solving many of our health challenges and will support the nation's Healthier SG strategy, shifting healthcare beyond hospital walls to enable coordinated, effective, and inclusive preventive care for all. We will continue to support the industry with its digital transformation, enabling people, data, and technology to be seamlessly connected to improve patient experience of care, health of individuals and populations, work life of health professionals, and reduce per capita cost of healthcare."

At the forefront of digital technology adoption to tackle healthcare staff shortages

Singapore's Ministry of Health predicts as many as 24,000 additional allied health professionals and support care staff are needed to meet the demands of the country's aging population and to operate hospitals, clinics, and eldercare centres by 2030[1]. Amid the talent crunch, the FHI survey found that 3 in 4 (75%) healthcare leaders in Singapore (above the global average of 56%) say they already use, or plan to use, digital health technology to reduce the impact of healthcare workforce shortages. The top three technologies identified to relieve the impact of staff shortages are cloud-based technology to support access to information from any location (53%), technology solutions that connect with out-of-hospital settings (40%), and workflow technology like digital health records and patient flow automation (33%).

The good news is that embracing such technologies and digital transformation has been associated with healthcare talent attraction. When choosing where to work, a healthcare facility being at the forefront of AI is the top consideration cited by younger healthcare professionals surveyed (39%). Other factors such as professional autonomy (e.g., flexibility to dictate care plans for their patients), availability of technology for everyday tasks (e.g., tablets/iPads for notetaking, secure patient portals, etc.), and strong record of patient outcomes come next in second place (24%).

The surveyed younger healthcare professionals also see digital technologies improving their work satisfaction. These include the ability to access diagnostic capabilities from any location using a smartphone, for example via a portable ultrasound app (35%), the use of chat bots to provide patients with answers to basic medical questions via an automated service (33%), and portability of healthcare data between hospitals or practices (31%).

Significant impact of virtual care technologies and investment in AI expected to rise

Since the pandemic, leaders in Singapore have prioritized solutions that allow them to further extend care delivery beyond hospital walls. Almost half (49%) of all respondents, whether healthcare leaders or younger healthcare professionals, recognize virtual care as having already had a significant impact on improving patient care. Singapore appears to have already reached the destination for virtual care that other countries are aiming for, allowing its healthcare leaders to redirect their resources. This shift is reflected in its healthcare leaders' investments: about half (51%) are currently investing in virtual care, in line with 54% globally. However, this falls to just 11% planning to invest in the next three years, lower than the global average of 32%.

The report also finds that Singapore's healthcare sector recognizes the opportunities offered by AI and continues to show an increased appetite for future investment. Although healthcare leaders locally are less likely to be currently investing in AI technologies than the global average (25% versus 59%), as many as 84% plan to invest in the technology three years from now, indicating a definitive long-term commitment to AI, in line with the global average of 83%.

Healthcare professionals in Singapore are most likely to prefer to invest in AI to predict outcomes: 45% of healthcare leaders and 39% of younger healthcare professionals favored this functionality. The next most popular choice is AI for clinical decision support (40% for leaders and 37% for younger professionals). This reflects how AI is poised to feature prominently in healthcare, aiding in the diagnosis of diseases, personalized treatment plans, and predicting health outcomes.

High hopes that new care delivery models will benefit patients, staff and the environment

Healthcare professionals (leaders and younger professionals) in Singapore envision new care delivery models that are powered by technology and that integrate physical and virtual services within and beyond hospital walls, aligned with the nation's Healthier SG strategy. Two-thirds (68%) of all the respondents say that they are well equipped to work effectively with these new distributed models (higher than the global average of 59%), and the research also reveals a positive impact on staff morale and retention. The majority of the respondents expect the new care delivery models to offer healthcare staff a better work-life balance (60%) and contribute to greater work satisfaction than traditional healthcare models (52%).

While a distributed model of care offers many benefits, both healthcare leaders and younger healthcare professionals combined see increased patient compliance or adherence to treatment as the top selected benefit (34%), followed by increased revenue opportunities (33%), and increased efficiency (e.g., shorter waiting times, more patients seen) and more convenient locations for patients (near and in patients' homes) tying in third place (32% each).

Healthcare leaders are also enhancing their resources to ensure new care models improve patient outcomes. Their top priorities include investing more in staff training (39%), updating existing technology solutions (33%), consulting with vulnerable and underserved populations (32%) and building partnerships outside of the healthcare system (32%). For younger healthcare professionals, building partnerships outside their healthcare system (41%) and automating more tasks to improve productivity are top of mind (33%).

Driving more sustainability in healthcare

The adoption of technology can also benefit our planet. According to the FHI, 61% of the Singapore respondents believe that new care delivery models will deliver care in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way. That being said, healthcare leaders also share that they face multiple challenges when it comes to implementation of sustainability initiatives, and the most frequently cited is access to appropriate technology (34%). Additional barriers faced included personnel issues, such as a lack of internal expertise (33%), a lack of interest from staff (32%) and a lack of staff in general (30%). To overcome these barriers, healthcare leaders believe in creating a strong business case (41%). More than one-third (35%) say they see value in sharing best practices with peers, working with a third party (35%), and recruiting staff with more specialist skills (35%).

The Future Health Index 2023 report: Taking Healthcare Everywhere is the eighth edition of the report. It surveyed nearly 3,000 respondents spanning healthcare leaders and younger healthcare professionals in 14 countries, including Singapore


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