Residents of Singapore want their healthcare experiences to be more affordable, efficient, and, perhaps most importantly, to lead to better health outcomes. Integrating digital technologies across the healthcare ecosystem and into people´s health routines is an important step to meeting these needs.
Healthcare players—from doctors and pharmacists to technology and pharmaceutical companies— must combine the power of technology and human ingenuity and work together to boost the adoption of these technologies, without sacrificing people´s expectations for emotional support and empathy.
The benefits of this close collaboration between various healthcare providers and the use of digital technologies can be substantial, ranging from more accurate diagnoses and personalized treatments to more efficient appointments and deeper patient-provider relationships.
Did interest in digital technology come, then go?
Virtual appointments and other digital technologies to manage health needs became widely available to accommodate COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing guidelines in Singapore—but adoption rates are low among Singaporeans compared to respondents from other countries.
have not used any digital technologies to manage their health in the past year.
used wearable technology.
used Electronic health records.
used Mobile phone/tablet applications.
used Social media and online support communities/resources.
used Virtual consultation with a medical provider.
The potential for digital uptake is high
While use of technologies to manage health needs is low, many Singaporeans are still interested in digital options—especially if they enable efficiency, increase cost savings, improve health outcomes, and meet people’s data security needs.
Convenience and efficiency are top motivators for digital adoption
Over half (51%) of those who have had a negative healthcare experience say it was caused by inefficiencies such as long wait times. Singaporeans are more likely than their peers around the world to be willing to see their medical provider virtually to save time. Respondents in Singapore are also willing to use digital technologies (e.g., a mobile phone, tablet, or wearable device) to interact with their medical providers for a number of cases that would increase convenience. For example, 44% would use these technologies to receive their prescriptions, and 29% would do so to expand access to their preferred medical doctors and treatments, for instance by being able to choose from more appointment times.
Affordability challenges remain a barrier to digital adoption
Concerns over cost remain a barrier to the adoption of digital technologies for many, but this could also be turned into an opportunity: Singaporeans are more likely than others to say they would use digital technology to interact with their medical providers if it was a cheaper alternative to their current way of interacting with providers (41% say so, compared with 23% globally).
People are looking for better health outcomes
People are willing to use digital forms of care to improve their health. For example, Singaporeans would consider using digital therapeutics for disease monitoring or management of an ongoing illness. People are also willing to use digital technology to interact with their medical providers for disease prevention or to treat and manage chronic conditions.
Singaporeans are open to smart technologies, which can improve the accuracy of their diagnoses and increase the quality time spent with their providers.
Data privacy and security must be prioritized
For respondents in Singapore, these priorities need to be met in order to increase their confidence in, and consequently adoption of, digital technologies.
They are more likely than others to say the increase in virtual care due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made them consider their data privacy and security needs.
considered the right to approve the collection and usage of personal health information (PHI) for any purpose beyond treatment (Global at 63%).
considered data privacy and security needs (Global at 59%).
To encourage people in Singapore to manage their health with digital technologies, providers must take into consideration this increased awareness around data privacy needs.
Trust across the health ecosystem varies, hindering effective care
Traditional healthcare providers are the most trusted sources of information, placing them in a unique position to guide patients throughout their healthcare journeys—including encouraging them to use digital technologies to manage their health.
When asked what would make them more likely to use digital technology to manage their health, they listed increased awareness of the digital options available to them. Medical providers can boost the adoption of digital technologies and improve their patients’ health outcomes by filling this awareness gap.
But digital technologies cannot be the only component of a healthcare system that delivers seamless experiences—other providers such as pharmaceutical companies must be integrated into the wider healthcare ecosystem to improve health outcomes. Doing this requires trust in the pharmaceutical industry, but respondents have mixed feelings about these healthcare players.
People want to receive emotional support
The use of digital technologies can lead to improvements for both people and providers alike by increasing efficiency, improving diagnosis accuracy, and personalizing treatments. But providers must maintain a balance between technology and human interactions to keep people satisfied throughout their health journey.
In general, Singapore respondents report high satisfaction with their experiences seeking medical care. When asked which factors were most important to creating a positive experience with a healthcare provider, people ranked clear explanations (61%) and empathy (39%) as top 2 factors—which emphasize the need for an involved, supportive provider.
The human touch is critical for a positive healthcare experience. Having a medical provider that shows empathy is significantly more important than a nice, clean office.
said a medical provider who explains their condition and treatment clearly is important for a positive experience.
said a medical provider who listens, understands their needs, and provides emotional support is important.
Humanizing healthcare in digital age
The signals we saw in our research revealed the path to better healthcare experiences in Singapore involves close collaboration between healthcare players across the ecosystem to meet people’s expectations, high quality and affordable digital technologies that increase service efficiency and treatment effectiveness, and medical providers who offer emotional support and empathy.
Build close collaboration between providers to improve healthcare experiences
The task of humanizing healthcare does not solely fall on the shoulders of providers. All players—from pharma companies to tech companies to insurance providers—should work in unison to improve care experiences.
Embrace digital technologies that support health management and healthcare access
The use of digital health technologies is low in Singapore, but people are open to incorporating these tools into their health routines if doing so is affordable, efficient, and keeps their data protected.
Maintain the human touch in healthcare experiences
The effective use of digital technologies and data-sharing can power seamless communication between providers and their patients, improve the accuracy of diagnoses, and increase the effectiveness of treatments. But this is not enough for a positive healthcare experience: Singaporeans want a medical provider who offers emotional support, empathy, and communicates with them throughout their healthcare experience.
Healthcare providers will need to balance the advantages that digitization offers with the traditional aspects of healthcare that comfort people. Singapore residents are ready than most to embrace digital technologies to manage their health. To boost more adoption, the healthcare ecosystem, as a whole, must present information about the values of digital technologies more clearly and make them affordable and accessible.