SINGAPORE: The Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Mar 3 that all Singapore residents will receive S$20 worth of health points if they enrol in the voluntary Healthier SG programme and complete their first health consultation.
Healthier SG benefits such as free health screenings and vaccinations will commence in July, with enrolment starting for residents aged 60 and above.
inister for Health Ong Ye Kung said on Mar 3 that Singapore will build a strong population health system through Healthier SG. The concept of population health – health for everyone in a defined population – is relatively new to Singapore and Southeast Asia. How does the concept translate to action and benefits for our citizens?
UNPACKING POPULATION HEALTH
At present, organisations practising population health have anything between a few hundred thousand to tens of millions of people under their care. United States healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente has more than 12 million members. Dealing with large numbers such as these can get mind boggling.
It may be simpler to think about a village, with 1,000 people, and the “organisation” as the village clinic, with a doctor and a support team.
When the population is young and their health needs are light, and if the village clinic only sits back and wait for patients to arrive – the clinic may not be very busy. But when the villagers get older, their health needs increase and compound, and the clinic may find itself overwhelmed.
If the clinic takes proactive steps to move beyond taking care of the ill villagers that appear at its doors, it can lead to better health for the village and reduce need for urgent care at the clinic.
t warrants emphasis that people who need healthcare services do not necessarily use them. A population health approach accounts for this and considers the people who need healthcare services even if they do not think they do so.
For example, most of us do not think that children need preventive health services, but population health needs to begin early and a S$100 top-up of ActiveSG credit will be provided to young children to encourage them to take up sports.
MOVING AWAY FROM EPISODIC CARE TO PREVENTIVE AND END-TO-END CARE
A key consideration for why the population health paradigm is a game-changer is related to the World Health Organization’s definition of health as not merely the absence of disease, but a state of physical, mental and social well-being.