The healthcare landscape has transformed drastically over the years and we have found ourselves in a situation where both patients and consumers alike are becoming more engaged and involved in their own health. Consequently, this has given rise to a need to find a more personalised way of managing healthcare for each individual. In addition, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has also forced us to adapt and switch to utilising digital technology to treat medical conditions instead of delivering more traditional face to face episodic care. This further cemented the dire need for a sound digital infrastructure to cater to the differing healthcare needs of each individual.
A salient reason for the creation of a Personalised Health Index specifically in APAC was due to a need to measure the readiness of health systems across the region to embrace more tailored care as well as the learning which could be derived from this diversity. The Personalised Health Index is built on 4 different vital signs –policy context, health information, personalised technologies and health services. Measures are made based on these vital signs and calibrated across the different health systems. Through this, health systems can identify where they are performing and areas of opportunity to prioritise focus and resources for the most impact can be highlighted.
Rachel Frizberg, Area Head of Asia Pacific Roche Pharmaceuticals stated, “We need to reimagine a different healthcare system – one that allows the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. The Asia-Pacific Personalised Health Index helps create a data-driven dialogue about the areas where countries are performing well and where they might look to learn from others to improve their future readiness.” Such benchmarking encourages countries to have a deeper form of appreciation of the context, challenges as well as approaches of other countries which may in turn encourage collaboration.
LESSONS IN DIGITAL HEALTH FROM COVID-19
The pandemic has served to demonstrate to us how regulatory agility has proved to be crucial in allowing the swift approval of innovative vaccines whilst ensuring that the data used remains confidential and secure. Countries in the APAC region should take steps to embrace this “new normal” and support innovation as well as ensure that the digital infrastructure is in place to enable personalised care to be delivered to patients when there is a need for it.
ENABLING REGULATORY AGILITY TO PROVIDE GREATER PERSONALISED CARE IN THE APAC REGION
While the Personalised Health Index encouragingly shows there has been progress by all countries in the region, there are factors which may still prove to be a hindrance to the enabling of more personalised care in APAC.
John Lim, Professor and Executive Director of Regulatory in Duke NUS explained that there is still insufficient regulatory knowledge and capacity throughout the region which is particularly important to realise the potential of data to inform personalised healthcare. Regulatory requirements also remain fragmented despite numerous years of harmonisation and convergence efforts largely because of individual country requirements. Regulatory science and policy innovation could also be improved amongst governments and industries in the APAC region.
An all-encompassing framework has to also be set up in order to better facilitate regulatory agility within APAC. Healthcare organisations require a strong sense of trust in their government which serves as an impetus for the adoption of innovative therapies as well as the advancement of personalised digital health and tele-health solutions. There should also be transparency between the governments and citizens when it comes to how this captured data will be used.
Training to expand the regulatory capabilities for therapeutic and policy innovations will be essential as well. Regulatory sandboxes have to be set up in order to allow for the testing of new implementation or systems within a country. For instance, in Singapore, telemedicine was already going through a sandbox approach prior to COVID-19 and the pandemic served to proliferate its use across the nation.
Trans-national bodies should also look to be established to help facilitate the coordination, collaboration and information exchange within APAC. This would have to be supported by robust cross-jurisdictional frameworks which promote interoperability and the easy exchange of data. Lastly, healthcare organisations have to act quickly in order to meet the needs of patients when providing personalised healthcare.
FUTURE OF PERSONALISED HEALTHCARE
The greatest strengths in APAC lie in health information as well as its digital infrastructure which shows promising growth. However, there are still vast differences amongst countries in terms of their policy environments as well as their future plans for personalised healthcare. This is a clear indication of the existing differences in regulatory, innovation as well as implementation capacities between governments in the region. To establish a clear personalised healthcare ecosystem within APAC, nations should look to leverage their strong existing digital infrastructure to help them achieve regional data interoperability and develop regulations to aid in the implementation of personalised healthcare solutions in the years to come.
Click here to watch a webinar discussing the potential of a personalised healthcare ecosystem and how a new policy tool—the Asia Pacific Personalised Healthcare (PHC) Index—is helping countries build more patient-centric and sustainable healthcare systems