Statista predicts that the market will reach nearly $460 billion in the next decade, a nine-fold jump from $50 billion in 2019. And it’s no wonder. The benefits are plentiful when you combine digital telecommunications and modern medicine. In Singapore, telehealth is already part of its ‘Smart Nation’ initiative since 2017. During that time, the government launched remote patient consultations over online video conferencing. Major hospitals have already embarked on providing telehealth services for their patients. But how will it benefit people in the long run? Is it a long-term solution?
In this article we focus on the main topics surrounding telehealth such as:
It does sound like something from the Jetsons, doesn’t it? Where all you need to do is plug into a screen and get the medical advice you need. Telehealth combines the power of digital information and communication technologies to provide healthcare services remotely. Healthcare providers can leverage telehealth to support, or improve, their services.
Telehealth can come in several forms, from virtual visits to remote health monitoring. It can also include technologies such as online patient portals, personal health records, and health apps.
The Ministry of Health in Singapore has been actively promoting the use of telemedicine. In 2018, they launched the Licensing Experiment and Adaptation Programme (LEAP) for telemedicine providers. It was a regulatory sandbox for both the industry and the government to gain a better perspective of the problems and opportunities of the telemedicine industry.
The pandemic spurred even more patients to use telehealth and virtual health services. During that time, patient subsidies and medical savings schemes had expanded to cover telemedicine too. Various telemedicine companies have seen a rise in usage and sign-ups for their video consultation services.
Then, after three years of research and adaptation, the government has moved to concretise its efforts with regulation and governance measures. Just last year, the new Health Services Act (HSA) allowed formal licences for telehealth and telemedicine providers in Singapore.
Today, Singapore’s healthcare system is fully embracing technology. Major hospitals are already taking advantage of the Smart Health Video Consultation platform. 31 community care partners have joined them as well. Telehealth in Singapore today covers areas such as:
Some healthcare institutions are now even using electronic sensors to monitor patients with chronic diseases. For example, patients with hypertension can submit regular blood pressure readings via a Bluetooth device.
There are still barriers to adoption, even when patients are more confident in digital tools and services after the pandemic. One of the biggest concerns for telehealth services is privacy and data security. Singaporeans are no strangers to data breaches. According to Accenture, trust in tech companies has declined significantly because of high-profile incidents. Many feel that their data could be vulnerable or misused.
Consumers in Singapore also have elevated expectations for digital services even before the pandemic hit. Telemedicine service providers won’t be immune to that either. Close to half of the respondents in a 2019 Accenture survey expressed their willingness to switch to a new healthcare provider for high-quality digital services. 57% of the respondents also agreed that a bad digital experience would ruin the entire experience.
Even so, the telehealth and telemedicine sector in Singapore may gain a foothold among patients and consumers. Though most consumers still prefer in-person medical care, the younger generation of healthcare consumers are more open to virtual healthcare experiences. Consumers are even willing to receive virtual care from different sources, from a tech giant like Google or a local medical startup like Speedoc.
The future of healthcare is here. Receiving quality medical care should never be a hassle. You shouldn’t have to wait for hours at the hospital, nor figure out where, when, and how to get the right care.
With Speedoc, our end-to-end care system will connect you with qualified medical professionals, whether you need in-person or remote monitoring.