As a professional working in the British health system, you undoubtedly know the NHS inside and out. While the UK is a leader around the world in terms of keeping costs low and patient satisfaction high, there is another country making big waves in health care. Singapore is increasingly known as a world leader in e-health initiatives, and more and more nurses and doctors in the UK want to follow suit.
While the UK is certainly known for providing some of the best healthcare in the world, is there something we can learn from Singapore? After all, their healthcare system is often touted as being ‘a miracle’ that the US (and others) should aspire to emulate.
Read ahead to learn about why the UK should be paying attention to our Southeast Asian counterparts.
An overview of the Singapore Health System
Healthcare in Singapore falls under the purview of the Government’s Ministry of Health. It is revered around the world as an efficient and effective healthcare system; it was ranked 6th in the world by the World Health Organisation in 2000.
The branch of the Ministry of Health that provides health insurance and coverage is called Medisave. Within Medisave, every person accrues medical funds that can the be pooled and used by a family (including extended family).
Unlike the services provided by the NHS, medical services in Singapore are never free. In fact, no matter how subsidised they are, health services always come with a small cost. This measure has been taken in order to prevent an over-utilisation of services.
A dual private/public system in Singapore
Medisave is funded by a mix of public and private contributions. The public sector is responsible for 80% of the funds. The rest comes from a combination of taxes, compulsory savings, insurance, employee medical benefits, and out-of-pocket payments. For individuals who cannot afford to pay even a single cent, the funding comes from the public sector.
eHealth innovations in Singapore
The Singaporean medical system is widely lauded for its technological savvy. For anyone who has visited Singapore, this should come as no surprise – the country’s citizens have been ranked the world’s most connected. With smartphones and other gadgets already in people’s hands, it makes sense that these tools should be utilised for healthcare purposes.
This is an area in which the UK certainly lags behind. Many doctor’s surgeries do not even allow online booking, let alone any of the services listed below.
5 Successful Singaporean eHealth Initiatives
- Harnessing Big Data – Big data has many exciting possibilities for health car. Home info-comm systems allow chronically ill people to receive round the clock monitoring. Real time data will be available to doctors, allowing medications and treatments to be tweaked. Health care data can be transferred seamlessly from one health care professional to another. Drug contraindications can be monitored for every patient in the country. This is the future, and Singapore is harnessing big data in a smart and effective way.
- Security of Data
Many of you will have read the point above and shuddered. After all, what prevents an identity thief from stealing this valuable information? A massive data security initiative, that’s what. Singapore leads the way in this field, and they have implemented the Personal Data Protection Act.
- A ‘Telehealth” Tech system
This is a sweeping initiative that includes high definition video, audio, medical devices and communication networks. Doctors and patients are able to communicate in a variety of ways.
- ‘Wearables’ can be monitored
Wearable fitness trackers and smart watches can be incorporated into the above point in order to add even more valuable data to a patient’s profile.
- Utilising the ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT)
Linking many objects around the home (heating systems, refrigerators, bathroom appliances and more) to the internet allows them to transmit important data to healthcare professionals.
The Singaporean government has sunk billions of dollars into these initiatives, and so far it seems to be working. Not only is their health care considered some of the finest in the world, nurses and doctors have more information at their fingertips than ever. It seems that the NHS has a lot to learn from Singapore, both now and moving forward.