Staff shortages and inexperience could hinder digital transformation, says survey 

Healthcare leaders in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region expect that, three years from now, around a quarter (25%) of routine care delivery will take place outside the walls of a hospital or healthcare facility, up from 22% today, according to a report by Royal Philips

“APAC’s healthcare systems have all shown resilience in their responses to the pandemic, however, when it comes to confidence about the future, we’re seeing a mixed picture — with Singapore pulling ahead of other countries across Asia,” said Caroline Clarke, market leader and executive vice-president of Philips ASEAN Pacific. “While crisis response will continue to be a priority for many healthcare leaders in the months ahead, it is important that they look to the future too, to ensure that they don’t fall behind in technology upgrades and progress towards healthcare digitization.”  

Now in its sixth year, the Future Health Index 2021 report is based on proprietary research across 14 countries, representing the largest global survey of its kind to analyze the current and future priorities of healthcare leaders. APAC countries surveyed for this report are Australia, China, India, Singapore. 

Prioritization of virtual care is patchy across the region. Healthcare leaders in India are among the most likely of all countries surveyed to currently prioritize a shift to remote/virtual care (75%) — well ahead of the average healthcare leader response across the 14 countries surveyed (42%). However, countries in the rest of region are lagging behind with only around four in ten in Singapore (40%), around one in three in China (32%) and about one in four in Australia (27%) making it a current priority. 

The fall-out of dealing with COVID-19 could be what is distracting APAC’s healthcare leaders from making remote/virtual care a greater focus, with more than half (60%) saying that preparing to respond to crises is their primary priority right now and 58% citing the pandemic as the main external factor that is impeding their ability to plan for the future.   

Findings also indicate that APAC’s healthcare leaders are championing predictive analytics, but staff’s lack of experience with new technologies is impeding planning. 

“The pandemic has confirmed the viability of remote care but dealing with the current crisis could be preventing many of APAC’s healthcare leaders from prioritizing this as much as they otherwise would. Likewise, staff inexperience and skill shortages risk hindering further digitization in the region if not urgently addressed. It is vital that APAC’s healthcare leaders invest in the right training to move beyond purely administrative applications of these game-changing technologies to unlock their full potential in the future,” said Ms. Clarke.