Health x Wellness

Philips Future Health Index 2023 Report shares Singapore is using digital health technology to reduce the impact of healthcare workforce shortages

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Singapore’s healthcare sector at the forefront of digital technology adoption to tackle staff shortages and improve efficiency

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.

Amid the talent crunch, the Philips Future Health Index (FHI) 2023 report: Taking Healthcare Everywhere found that 3 in 4 (75 percent) healthcare leaders in Singapore (above the global average of 56 percent) say they already use, or plan to use, digital health technology to reduce the impact of healthcare workforce shortages.

digital health technology

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 percent), technology solutions that connect with out-of-hospital settings (40 percent), and workflow technology like digital health records and patient flow automation (33 percent).

digital health technology

Since the pandemic, leaders in Singapore have prioritised solutions that allow them to further extend care delivery beyond hospital walls. Almost half (49 percent) of all respondents, whether healthcare leaders or younger healthcare professionals, recognise 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 percent) are currently investing in virtual care, in line with 54 percent globally.
  • This falls to just 11 percent planning to invest in the next three years, lower than the global average of 32 percent.

The report also finds that Singapore’s healthcare sector recognises 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 percent versus 59 percent), as many as 84 percent 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 percent.

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

digital health technology

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 percent). 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 percent).

digital health technology

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 percent), the use of chat bots to
provide patients with answers to basic medical questions via an automated service (33 percent), and portability of healthcare data between hospitals or practices (31 percent).

Images are attributed to Royal Philips and taken from the Philips Future Health Index (FHI) 2023 report.