Technology the enabler, collaboration the panacea
Highlights from the 2017 FT Asia Healthcare & Life Sciences Summit
Last week, Spurwing Communications returned as a supporting partner of the Financial Times Asia Healthcare & Life Sciences Summit. As exclusive PR partner, Spurwing had a front-row seat to the insights and discussions from the day. Themed ‘Shaping the future of healthcare’, the prestigious event brought together industry experts and senior leaders from the government and private sector to discuss initiatives that can be implemented today to improve the region’s healthcare landscape tomorrow. Panellists tackled the most topical issues facing Asia today, including sustainable healthcare, optimising technology to disrupt or enable that sustainability and addressing major challenges such as the rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Read more about the highlights and our key takeaways from the day’s thought-provoking discussions.
Making healthcare sustainable in Asia Setting the tone for the Summit, Preetha Reddy, Vice Chairperson of the Apollo Hospitals Group, stressed that healthcare is the fundamental right of every citizen. Speaking on early intervention and preventative tactics, Ms Reddy acknowledged the role of sound policy and the importance of educating people on looking after themselves, which all stakeholders including the media can help facilitate. Ms Reddy highlighted the stark reality that Asia faces – a rapidly ageing population which is estimated to be a US$23 trillion conversation. Along with inadequate health infrastructure, insufficiently skilled manpower and health policies that could be more sustainable, Ms Reddy called for greater and more innovative collaborations between stakeholders. As she explained, the pursuit of healthcare sustainability cannot be solved by a magic bullet – each party must play a role and do so in the right way. Does intelligent technology equate to smarter healthcare? Evidence of how technology is already enabling significant improvements within the healthcare industry has made ‘disruption’ more than a buzzword. Sharing Singapore’s approach to the adoption of technology in healthcare, Bruce Liang, Chief Information Officer at the Ministry of Health, and Chief Executive Office of Integrated Health Information Systems, stressed the need for a supportive ecosystem, with technology as a multiplier. Mr Liang shared how ageing populations, which also affect the future of the healthcare workforce is influencing innovations - from the use of robots to assist in physically moving patients to using big data to forecast the likelihood of a patient returning to hospital. The role of wearable technologies is also encouraging greater accountability, cultivating greater monitoring and attention to a person’s well-being. A live poll at the Summit revealed that most participants believed that greater partnerships with government healthcare departments could be a catalyst in promoting the use of healthcare technology in the region. Investments in health-tech start-ups and fostering innovations through dedicated centres also ranked highly. Building on the theme of collaboration in a separate panel discussion, Professor Patrick Tan of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology & Research said that having the right scale, people and questions for exploring and conducting research are key to successful public-private partnerships. Non-communicable diseases: a rising challenge for Asia and the world Calling non-communicable diseases (NCDs) the public health challenge of the 21st century, Capacity Development Director of the NCD Alliance, Dr Cristina Parsons Perez sounded another call for action in dealing with NCDs, which pose an economic and development challenge to countries around the world. In Southeast Asia, NCDs, such as diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases, account for 2 out of 3 deaths in the region. This would grow to 10.4 million deaths annually by 2020. Declaring that it can no longer be ‘business as usual’ in the way that NCDs are managed, Dr Perez urged Summit participants to consider the complexity of NCDs, and how health sector leaders can provide the solutions. Noting that individual responsibility is as important as a robust patient support, Maarten Kelder, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Solutions at Zuellig Pharma, noted that almost 50 per cent of patients do not follow through on their prescriptions. Combined with the issues of access and affordability, Mr Kelder believes the relationship between stakeholders and the healthcare ecosystem will only grow increasingly intertwined. Echoing the sentiment, Novo Nordisk’s Associate Director for Market Access and Public Affairs in Southeast Asia, Priya Matzen, noted that increasingly urban lifestyles would impact the ‘growth’ of NCD incidence, and that a key challenge would be ensuring that infrastructure and expertise can adequately identify and intervene at the time when patients would need it most. View our tweets from the day for further insight and quotes from the speakers.