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Innovation in Asian Healthcare Systems

Innovation in Asian Healthcare Systems

When it comes to healthcare systems and policies, Asian countries are at very different stages of development and progress.  In some, the healthcare systems employed could be considered strict and well developed.  In others, the systems are evolving rapidly and the opportunities for innovation continue to ripen.


Taking the lead from the West, government officials in the Philippines have recently enacted a tax on alcohol and tobacco.  This sin tax, as it’s called, will help fund the national health insurance.  In Thailand, rising pressure on the hospital systems have prompted a law that requires patients to pay more if they bypass their primary care doctor in favor of emergency or hospital care.  South Korea has recently enacted measures to avoid the abuse of prescription medication.


In addition to the legislation described above, many Asian countries have recently adopted or upgraded their technology in order to improve their healthcare systems.  Mobile technology features heavily in the integration of mobile intensive care units in rural towns.  It includes options for patients to book appointments and seek medical advice by sending a text.  A fun feature includes games that patients can play which give them valuable information on common ailments like kidney disease and how to recognize signs and symptoms.


Because of recent skyrocketing costs and prompted by the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, China launched an initiative and began an internet based communication system designed to report outbreaks.  Using the data, the government created clinics where patients exhibiting symptoms of SARS could report, which relieved the strain on hospitals and lowered costs for patients.


In fact, when you talk about the best of the Asian healthcare systems, most employ high-tech methods to facilitate effective solutions that are low-cost.  Innovation also means making sure that your most demanding job markets, like healthcare, have available talent to fill positions.  Indonesia uses their social media networks to recruit young, talented professionals, to fill health care roles.  Courses in leadership, project management, financing, and even survival training are given and once completed, employees are sent to remote and rural locations.  Their main role is to educate populations on issues like maternal health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention, and clean water, as well as building relationships with the communities.


A major concern in healthcare innovation in Asia is the economic costs of implementing those innovations.  Before innovation can be considered, studies of the intended market should be completed, ensuring that the investment will be recouped.  Additionally, countries should be aware that the introduction of new technology always comes with the risk that providers will overuse systems in order to increase costs to their benefit.
Even as innovation changes and improves healthcare systems within Asia, providers and other medical professionals should remember that their main role is as caregivers.  Technology should be balanced with personal touch and professionals must take care not to allow it to make hospitals and clinics appear cold or impersonal.