Healthcare is a basic right. Good healthcare is a no-brainer. With more and more individuals moving into cities every year, and life expectancy increasing, developing better medical facilities and systems are key. So why are so many countries failing to provide good healthcare to their citizens? Because getting the plethora of aspects involved, such as the care process, access, administrative efficiency, equity, and healthcare outcomes, all spot on is not easy.
In the Legatum Prosperity Index 2019, Singapore came top of the rankings in the health category. The Health Pillar is based on the extent to which people are healthy, and have access to the necessary services to maintain good health, including health outcomes, healthy systems, illness and risk factors, and mortality rates. Coming in at second and third were Japan and Switzerland, followed closely by South Korea, Norway and Hong Kong. But what specifically allows these countries to stand out against the rest of the world?
Singapore makes medical savings mandatory, offering catastrophic health insurance, and providing a social backstop to the poorest households. MediSave, Medishield and MediFund are the ‘three M’s’ that together make up a citizens saving and insurance program.
- MediSave: it is mandatory for individuals to save 7-9.5% of wages into this account. The government chooses when and how you can use these savings.
- Medishield: nationwide catastrophic insurance program for the big expenses. Everyone is automatically enrolled but has the option to opt out.
- MediFund: governments are able to dish out medical care to those that they deem needy enough.
Healthcare in Singapore thrives because its society embraces public health and disease prevention, the system is respected and has become a way of accepted life. It is the only truly universal health insurance system in the world that is based on the idea that patients, not insurers, should bear the costs of routine care. The state only funds a quarter of healthcare, the individual pays for the rest of it. Therefore, because emphasis is on funding their own medical care, the individual only spends when it is important, meaning there is less strain on medical professionals. There is also a large focus on a healthy lifestyle in Singapore, and preventative measures to illness which makes sense if you were going to have to pay for any medical care you might need.
But why do Singapore’s citizens put so much faith in the healthcare system and willingly put aside money to pay for their own medical costs? Because it works, since the 1950s the Singaporean government has turned the country around, and people have faith in the system. Singaporeans have the world’s longest life expectancy at 84.8 years, and alongside managing stress, not smoking and lowering alcohol intake, good medical care and healthtech are large contributing factors. Many healthtech startups have played a role in improving Singapore’s healthcare, and could be applicable around the world.
Holmusk, founded in 2015 in Singapore is a digital health platform that uses big data to tackle chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease, and influence positive health outcomes. It does this by monitoring data and its AI will recommend lifestyle changes before the condition worsens. More recently they have been focusing on mental health, offering MindLinc a management tool for mental illness, with the goal to integrate a care model between mental and chronic health. Having now raised $13m, they are a well established startup and
DocDoc, another AI enabled platform, is used for booking doctors appointments online based on the user’s medical needs. Founded in 2012, it has now gained $30m and is operating in 8 countries with over 23,000 doctors under contract. The platform allows patients to find “the right healthcare at the right time” by combining expertise in clinical informatics, AI and healthcare quality assessment.
UCARE.AI is a predictive artificial intelligence platform that senses and predicts health years into the future by detecting anomalies, continual learning of on-going lifetime risk, and changing the way you receive insights. The platform gives an overview of health risks and allows the individual to take precautions based on this advice, potentially avoiding health issues that they otherwise would have encountered. For diseases that are caused by bad lifestyle choices, this AI could be hugely beneficial if the individual makes lifestyle changes based on the predictions. Having already raised $8m in funding, this company has the scope to make a huge positive impact on people’s lives all over the world.
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