As a podiatrist who had worked in Singapore General Hospital before migrating to private practice, I am quite aware of the Ministry of Health’s recent push for “patient-centred healthcare solutions”.
It is a broad agenda towards efficient healthcare through a collaborative and preventative approach, overturning the old framework of reactive medicine which tends to treat problems only as they come up. We wouldn’t run a business based on an outdated model, so why should we treat people’s health that way? The MOH is correct: Reactive, episodic care is not high-value care. You would be paying more to receive less, no matter how good the doctor is.
As a patient, you may be wondering how you can take the MOH’s cue. “High-value care” sounds great… but what is it, and how do you receive it?
Quite simply, ‘High-Value Care’ is healthcare through prediction and prevention of illness, and holistic management of chronic problems. It achieves better results with less cost, less time, and less suffering. This principle applies to all healthcare specialties, including Podiatry.
For example, someone reading this article is likely a working adult, possibly the head of his or her household, seeking some insight into curing their own foot problems. However, ‘High-Value Care’ would be achieved by that individual expanding one’s health awareness to include one’s entire family – children, spouse and parents.
Our children may have developmental and alignment problems in the lower extremities, which can lead to pain and irreversible postural changes. But children do not have the awareness to describe such problems; it is up to the adult to recognize the signs.
Our elderly parents may be suffering from arthritic or diabetic foot problems, but may not be speaking up because they are afraid of doctors, and don’t understand the importance of preventative care.
If we are able to recognise the difference between ‘Preventative’ versus ‘Reactive’ care and brings our family in for early management, then we would have achieved High-Value Care.
It is difficult for any government to change an entire system from the top. But for an individual, good health for the entire family can be attained through just the change in perspective and understanding.
Dr Michael Lai is an American Podiatrist who received his surgical and hospital residency training in the United States. After receiving his doctorate from the prestigious New York College of Podiatric Medicine in 1999, Dr Lai has since worked in major hospitals in the United States, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Dr Lai currently serves as Principal Podiatrist at East Coast Podiatry where he continues to use his specialist expertise to treat everyone from children with complex foot deformities to elderly patients with joint pain.