The Health Hub
Transformation for the new normal
We have all heard the adage that economic development results in higher standards of living. There is truth in that, of course, but the reality is always less clear-cut. While rapid progress has pulled millions out of poverty in Southeast Asia, it has also left a number of unique challenges in its wake. These issues span across a variety of disciplines but, arguably, one of its largest impacts has been on the healthcare sector.
As populations gain affluence, lifestyles become more sedentary, consumption of high-calorie food increases and birth rate falls. All these contribute to an ageing population that is more predisposed to chronic diseases. While this is not a new population health issue, it is the alarming rate at which chronic diseases are increasing in Southeast Asia – diabetes and obesity cases in Southeast Asia quadrupled between 1970 and 2005, which is twice the rate for the United States in the same time period – as well as the region’s lack of access to quality and affordable healthcare, that is worrisome. Solving these problems with traditional approaches is unlikely to yield meaningful results; these efforts will only result in a never-ending spiral of playing catch-up with ever-increasing healthcare demand.
A different strategy is needed – one that enables us to do more with less. The need to break seemingly immutable trade-offs naturally lends itself to disruptive innovation and, as we will see, the roots of many such innovations have already begun sprouting in Southeast Asia as alternative solutions to age-old challenges.
To enable the healthcare system to transform from one that is reactive and focused on administering treatments during times of need, to one that is proactive and focused on disease prevention, healthcare providers will need to go beyond the episodic touch points of traditional interfaces and develop an end-to-end view of their health consumer. The Health Hub presents our vision of the healthcare ecosystem that will enable this future.
While ambitious, it is nevertheless within reach given the current momentum and trajectory of the driving forces and technological development. There remain, however, a number of outstanding issues that will need to be addressed in order to ensure a smooth transition from today to tomorrow.