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Delivering effective healthcare service: government healthcare 2.0

10 February 2014


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Citizen happiness and economic productivity are directly impacted by the quality of healthcare services. Healthcare services are on the top of Government agendas and represent a significant share of their budgets.

The session explored the impact of technological advancements and big data in predicting the future needs and enhancing the efficiency of healthcare service delivery. Best practices and examples from leading healthcare providers from around the world were showcased besides discussing the main opportunities and challenges to make healthier and happier nations.

The speakers included Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, Director of Customer Care & Corporate Communication, Health Authority Abu Dhabi; Dr. Allen Wai-Lun Cheung, Director, Hong Kong Hospital Authority – China; and Dr. Catherine Mohr, Senior Director of Medical Research at Intuitive Surgical Inc. (USA).

Al Kaabi noted that more than 180,000 people have already been treated at the UAE’s Imperial Diabetes Centre, which is affiliated with London’s Imperial Hospital.
Dr. Catherine Mohr, on the other hand, noted that as societies prosper, we begin dealing with obesity and diseases associated with that.

She noted that while the rest of world will be busy dealing with ‘silver tsunami’ because of the ageing population, the Middle East won’t be facing such an issue because of the younger population. Demographics, however, are changing, and prevention is key, she noted.

She spoke about the advances in healthcare methods, such as the increasing popularity of the DaVinci Surgery, which results in less complications, is less invasive, and less costly. She noted that there are 2,700 DaVinci robots worldwide today to undertake such surgery.

In addition, some of the other striking developments include dogs trained to smell lung cancer. The chemical composition in our breath can tell our bodies’ condition, she said, and said she was hopeful that technology could unlock ways to detect lung cancer at early stage through more research.
She urged for the use of technology to make countries medical superpowers and cure more people, as well as increase life expectancy. This is the ‘super heroic age’ in medical technology, she noted.

Dr Allen Wai-Lun Cheung shared developments regarding the healthcare sector in Hong Kong. He said Hong Kong has a dual healthcare system, wherein the public sector healthcare is highly subsidised by the government, and amounts to 2.4% of GDP.

He shared Hong Kong’s vision behind providing healthcare to all, and maintained that its policy insisted that “no person should be prevented from obtaining adequate medical services due to lack of means.”

Hong Kong hospitals seek funding from government in providing medical services for residents. They use the funds to cover four primary areas of concern: Health and safe environment; Health awareness; Changes in mortality patterns; and Death rates by leading causes of death.

In Hong Kong, mental and behaviour disorder cases in 1999 stood at 34,100; while the number rose to 38,400 in 2011, he said, adding that the increase was “more because of the increased awareness of mental health,” which encouraged more people to report it and seek help to rectify it.

The primary challenge facing healthcare in Hong Kong, he said, was lack of manpower, forcing long waiting periods on patients unless it was an emergency. He said this was not because of lack of money, but because of staffing issues.