The general election will commence in less than 48 hours. Many issues are often debated and healthcare is never far from being the top chosen subject.
Many promise better healthcare, from more hospitals and clinics to better access and affordable medicines. It is a common plight among voters that healthcare is becoming increasingly strained. Despite good access, overcrowding in many public hospitals coupled with a growing strain on the healthcare budget, the quality of care comes into question. Access to more expensive medicines can sometimes be out of reach.
The ability to see a doctor or the opportunity to step foot into a healthcare facility doesn’t always equate to good healthcare. A 5 minute conversation with your doctor is hardly going to do the trick in many chronic diseases. Hence, despite all these years of “excellent” access to healthcare, the burden of chronic diseases continues to rise.
Sure, many argue that we are better than what we used to be 5 decades ago, however, we cannot use strategies that was ideal in a developing country, in our attempts to deliver healthcare in this new century in a more developed state. There must be a focus on more innovation. It’s the ability to keep your best brains from leaving, in fact, it should be the ability to attract foreign talents to your shores.
It is about investing heavily in technology to bring healthcare into the new era. It is no longer about focusing on access to healthcare but rather on outcomes and values in healthcare. It is about maximising the potential of digitisation and new technological tools to aid the human workforce, ensuring more efficiency. It is about the ability to bring healthcare to homes of patients and keeping them away from healthcare facilities.
So, politicians who continue to promise hospitals and clinics are missing the point and clearly are trapped in the strategies of the past decades. Take a leaf from the finance sector, where banks are not building more banks to serve the people, they are developing more tools for customers to do their banking when and where they need to.
Get out and vote. The future of healthcare in Malaysia may well depend on it.