Investing in telemedicine and digital health platforms could reduce costs by making primary care accessible and affordable. Such services have lowered the need for hospitalisation in Singapore when the country was dealing with a massive wave of COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant.
“We brought hospital visits down by over 30% because of such preventive digital health platforms. And we aren't the only ones, so do the other platforms that we work with that are coordinated by the Ministry of Health … I think the next 10 years is about how we make it even better for preventive health than just preventing visits to the hospital,” said MyDoc co-founder Dr Vas Metupalle speaking at a panel discussion at the Asia Life Insurance Summit.
He said digital health platforms can increase awareness of primary prevention measures such as influenza vaccines. Health apps developed by insurers can promote public education and have more reach than telehealth apps which are only used when patients fall sick.
The healthcare industry in the country is preparing to deal with an ageing population. Life and health insurers in the country are concerned with rising costs of healthcare and an elderly population who suffer from chronic illnesses. While life expectancy in the country stands at about 83 years, having longer lives may mean frequent visits to the hospital and more insurance claims.
“After the age of 40, one in four Singaporeans has some sort of chronic condition. In 2035, 27% of Singaporeans will be aged 65 or above ... This segment of the population will have at least one or probably two or more comorbidities ... We have a population that's aging, that's going to live long and that’s not going to be absolutely healthy,” said Prudential Singapore medical portfolio management medical director and head Dr Sidharth Kachroo who was moderating the discussion.
“Thirty percent of hospital admissions are avoidable. However, insurance only pays for hospitalisation … Patients come in and then three months later, they come again because out of pocket, it's cheaper to stay in the hospital. But increasingly, we are learning from other countries which have diagnosis related group funding,” said The Good Life Medical Centre specialist and medical director Dr ...