Advisory Council : what can we expect? Here’s some advice

The newly minted Health Minister, Dr Dzulkefly, has announced the setting up of an advisory council for the Health Ministry to help with charting the future direction of healthcare. It will likely be a mix of experience and youth as we barrel towards to a new decade.

Healthcare is changing rapidly from the body of scientific knowledge to the explosion of technology, making previously difficult tasks look simple enough.

Patient care is becoming increasingly outcome based, ensuring that patients do get value from their contact with health services. This will involve a seamless multi-disciplinary approach, ensuring that appropriate care givers will be involved. So breaking down the traditional separation of care based on sub-specialities has to end. Teams must be based on the conditions that they treat, hence a more holistic approach to patient care.

Decentralisation of care is important. No matter how good your hospital systems are, it will be fruitless if it is inundated with high numbers of patients. Quality will no doubt decline. So a decentralisation of care by empowering primary care and bringing healthcare to patients at their homes is a strategy to decongest hospitals. So preventing patients that do not need to go to the hospital from doing so, may help to ensure the best attention can be given to those in need. A private-public co-operation here will be vital.

One patient one record, has to be the way to go. Without this consolidation of information, patient care is bound to be compromised. So the previous plan to have a centralised database is wise. However, it is not as easy as it appears. It requires a buy in from all sectors, private, public healthcare facilities, insurers, corporate bodies etc. A proposition to use a hybrid system where patients hold the important aspects of their health records with them while their full medical records could be backed up, makes sense. So it doesn’t really matter where they go, each hospital can update their information and have access to the records when the patients provides the access at the point of care.

Investment in innovation and research has to be a focus. It should not be an exclusive domain for universities. The rapidity of change necessitates this move. It can attract talents and ensures that the eco-system promotes forward ideas.

A healthcare financing scheme to help pay for healthcare must be actively pursued. As healthcare exponentially escalates, subsidised government help may soon be unsustainable. Insurance premiums are also getting absurdly high. So a strategy must be thought of to ensure equitable healthcare for all.

Well, so much awaits the advisory council.

Dr Benjamin Cheah

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