Remote Care – a way to deliver healthcare with bed capacity constraints
SINGAPORE is recognised globally as an advanced nation in terms of its healthcare support and delivery system. As a country, we attract many high net worth individuals from the region to access our healthcare system for health enhancements and disease treatments.
Singapore will continue to see a rise in the number of elderly people with the anticipated "silver tsunami" by year 2030, when one in five people here will be aged 65 years and above. As these people age, unfortunately they will be more likely to suffer from chronic diseases and require continuous treatment. This will create a greater demand for infrastructure capacity to provide healthcare support
In its usual proactive style, the Singapore government has already taken steps to increase the bed capacity by building new hospitals in Jurong, Sengkang and Yishun, as well as raise the capacity of some existing hospitals. Additionally, a few hospitals have started working on alternative care for elderly patients by collaborating with general practitioners (GPs) and nursing homes so that they can provide stepdown care or better care for the chronically ill, which in turn should minimise their need to be hospitalised.
One new model of care could be to embrace a system of providing "remote care" by bringing healthcare support to homes so that patients can be treated remotely by doctors in the comfort of their homes. The implementation of this concept requires the use of technology, active participation of other stakeholders (mobile network operators, medical device companies, and GPs), and education of patients and healthcare professionals.
With eight million mobile subscriptions, 1.2 million broadband connections, the presence of most big pharmaceutical and medical device companies, high usage of smartphones and sophisticated insurance and mobile operators, it would seem that Singapore has all the right ingredients to embrace a remote care system.
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