COVID-19 underscored the need for resilient and proactive health systems. To achieve this, countries must establish the policies and frameworks necessary for preventative care.
During the “Moving from Sick Care to Prevention Through Personalised Care – What’s Needed?” webinar on 17 June, moderator Dr Charles Alessi, Chief Clinical Officer of HIMSS, spoke with three experts in the field on the potential of personalised healthcare (PHC) to champion the prevention of illnesses, rather than just sick care.
To lay the groundwork for the discussion, Dr Alessi shared that COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation in healthcare, while also opening the door to “managing diseases in a fundamentally different way” and “talking more about personalisation of care”.
“Precision health is really where one’s looking at delivering nudges, behaviour change, helping individuals to manage their risks better, and not to get to a stage where they have symptoms,” he added.
Dr Chai Chuah, Former Director-General of Health and Chief Executive at the New Zealand Ministry of Health mentioned that an integral theme of reform in health systems would need to be wellbeing and resilience, to “look beyond the issue of health”.
From the peripheral standpoint of reform, he shared that broad determinants of health would need to be acknowledged, particularly issues in social, economic, and environmental areas.
He also called for an increased focus on well-being and early prevention, while adding that healthcare systems would need to begin their push looking at self-care, home care, community care, and primary care.
Farid Bidgoli, General Manager of Roche Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, shared some insights into how personalised healthcare is currently seeing integration in Thailand. An example he cited was Welala Health & Wellness. With a buccal swab, the platform identifies the DNA of its consumers and later shares dietary recommendations tailored to their genetic makeup. Taking it a step further, the platform has also tied up with over 40 restaurants in Thailand to provide personalised meals for customers.
Bidgoli also shared more about Roche’s journey toward healthcare personalisation, with visual acuity aid and diagnostic support. A study is being conducted to improve the vision and quality of life of people with low acuity, while also detecting vision loss in real-time.
“The future is definitely here, it just needs to be more evenly distributed,” Bidgoli said, calling for what needs to change for personalised healthcare to take effect.
Professor Tai E Shyong, Director of the Centre of Excellence for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, National University Health System Singapore spoke about patient autonomy.
“Very often when patients come into the clinic, we tell them… ‘this is the best therapy for you, you just go and do it’, and we take away that autonomy.”
On the same point, Prof Tai clarified that patients in fear or pain may sometimes prefer the guidance of specific instructions and help. However, he also added that for healthy patients with chronic conditions, it is likely the inverse that applies.
Sharing about a series of interviews that had been conducted with patients with chronic disease, he said that patients described their ideal experience to be their care team being aware of their values and priorities, rather than measures related to their conditions, such as their blood pressure or their cholesterol.
“We describe these powerful conversations as delivering person-centred care… This is a biomedical psychosocial construct. And it requires you to provide care that is responsive to the patient’s needs and aspirations. And if you don’t know what their needs and aspirations are, you will never be able to do this.”
To watch the webinar in its entirety, click here.