IHH looking to reposition itself as healthcare provider


IHH Healthcare Bhd is looking to redefine itself as a healthcare provider instead of just a group of hospitals to keep up with ever-changing demand.

According to its Group head of Operational Strategy and Integration Ashok Bajpai (picture), IHH needs to move away from its current model of focusing solely on hospital management and expand to include other aspects such as diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation and wellness.

“I think we have to now define ourselves as a healthcare provider rather than just a group of hospitals. And I think that expands the field of services that we can provide,” Ashok said during the IHH Healthcare Insider webinar “Mega Trends in Healthcare” yesterday.

“The idea is for a powerhouse like IHH to be able to integrate a lot of those into a holistic programme that covers the lifecycle of the patient,” he said.

He added that the healthcare industry has been transforming due to technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, especially as rising cost pressures have compelled consumers to seek value for money. Thus, a value-driven approach to healthcare delivery is critical for healthcare providers to stay competitive in the marketplace.

“Value-driven outcomes actually talk about health outcomes that matter to the patient as a factor of the cost of providing that service to the patient. So, when you see a situation where you can improve outcomes at the same cost, you are creating value for the patient. Or if you’re able to maintain the same level of medical quality at a reduced cost, that is also creating value. 

“Now this is a very data-driven exercise, and it doesn’t happen very easily,” Ashok said.

He added that a holistic approach to healthcare delivery would require a shift in mindset among healthcare professionals, and this could be achieved by emphasising the importance of data analytics and evidence-based medicine.

Citing Singapore’s National Value-Driven Care Initiative, launched in 2012, Bajpai said this was an example of how the government had begun to shift the focus of healthcare to value-driven outcomes, and this had resulted in better health outcomes and lower costs.

He believes that maturity and the right attitude are necessary to make this transition possible.

“There has to be a desire to deliver value to the patient. And I think whenever such a conversation happens, we should think of having a patient in the room listening in on that conversation.

“And that makes the perspective correct for the provider of the data and, say, the doctor who is learning that perhaps he could be a little better, a little quicker, or could use a few fewer consumables because, in the end, it is that patient who is going to benefit,” he added.

Duke-NUS Medical School Adjunct Assistant Professor Dr Clive Tan shared his views on the future of healthcare and its role in society. He explained that the key drivers of change were the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, increased awareness of lifestyle diseases and the rise of digital technology. These factors are impacting healthcare delivery models and the way healthcare providers work.

He noted that more people are screening themselves regularly for illnesses and that there is also an increased demand for preventative care. This is resulting in more people seeking treatment early.

“People are now more aware of your health issues. They are consuming more services. When was the last time you had people come to a doctor in their 50s and 60s to see the doctor? Now people are coming earlier.

“So, we see that actual conversation on ageing has a knock-on effect of actually bringing people to healthcare earlier.”

He shared that Singapore recently started an initiative called “Healthier SG”, among others.

One of the key tenets of this initiative was to link up with a fixed family physician and develop a trusting relationship so that the patient sees the same doctor every time. This helps build rapport and allows for continuous dialogue to help manage the disease process as opposed to waiting until someone falls sick.

“I think that’s important because if you don’t see the same doctor every time, how can the doctor then advise you on your exercise habits or your diet habits if it’s a rotating door system? So, I think that that’s a great direction that we’re going in. Hopefully, there will be good developments in the next few years that we can talk more about.”