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HIAS: Telemedicine does not replace doctors

Despite all of the conversations about patient-centric technology, James Kilmister, development director at Civica, and chairman of the panel on “How tech and digitalisation can enhance operational efficiency and patient outcomes” cut straight to the heart of the matter. “How do you get it into organisations?” he asked.

Ronald Ling, chief executive, ConnectedHealth, said that technology needed to be both consumer and doctor facing. There has been a huge take-off of digital health in the US, indeed it is one of the fastest venture funded sectors because it is supported by insurers. “What the payer says the providers have to follow,” he said. Areas where this has resulted in cost savings are getting traction because of an active payer system. But, he emphasised: “Healthcare is a local game, it has to be significantly adapted to local markets”.

Peng Chung Mien, chief executive of The Farrer Park Company, explained how it has worked in Singapore. In one sense, he said, it was easy for him because he was a startup with a clean slate. “Business processes have been challenging,” he admitted. He specifically mentioned adoption by doctors. Older ones are happy with pen and paper, while it is easier to convince the younger ones. The new National Electronic Health System in Singapore is helping. “Doctors realise that it is top down,” he said.

For Michael Fernandes, partner at LeapFrog Investments, the difficulty is how to deliver healthcare in spaces that are not urban. “The biggest challenge is to connect the providers with the patients,” he said. He pointed out that although telemedecine has existed for a long time, it has often been impractical. It has been difficult to do bloodwork, for example and often results in the teledoctor recommending a trip to a conventional physician.

But the issue remains of how can organisations overcome a well-known aversion towards technology in older patients. “You have to design your products well,” said Ling. If they are to succeed, products in Asia have to recognise local conditions. There is the recognition that people get help from helpers and family members. Technology needs to recognise that. Above all, he concluded is the need to recognise that “technology will never replace the human, but it will improve the productivity of doctors.”

Posted on: 15/05/2018 UTC+08:00


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