An Interview with
Elisabeth Staudinger, President, Siemens Healthineers Asia Pacific
What do you think are the most pressing healthcare management issues in Asia today?
As populations age, the demand for healthcare increases, and providers around the world are under pressure to deliver more and better care, ideally at a lower cost. Especially in Asia, improving access to care is one of the most pressing challenges. When we talk about access, there are three dimensions: accessibility, affordability and availability.
Accessibility means care is available “everywhere” and, in particular, close to the patients. This is especially difficult in rural areas. Affordability means that patients can pay for state-of-the-art diagnostics treatment, and finally, availability means there is limited waiting time. All three dimensions, accessibility, affordability and availability can be challenging in Asia. From a healthcare management perspective, it is probably the shortage of skilled medical professionals, which poses the biggest challenge. Addressing this demand is time consuming, and we believe that digitalization can and will play an important role in shaping the future of care delivery.
Where do we stand with digitalization of the healthcare system in Asia? Where do you see major gaps and opportunities?
We have a very diverse landscape in Asia, which is one of the things that makes it exciting. On the one hand, we have high-end hospitals in the metropolitan areas which are at the forefront of digitalization. In these areas, we need to increase connectivity even further by breaking down data silos between different departments and providers.
Many countries in Asia would profit from the introduction of a more comprehensive eHealth infrastructure that covers an entire population. Necessary patient data often already exists, but the information is not available where and when it is needed.
On the other hand, we have providers in rural areas with very little or no digitalization. Tele-consultancy is one example, where cost can be saved, and access improved. Simply put, the patient does not need to be where the doctor is.
Connecting digitally saves travel time, costs and reduces the burden for the patient who may not be fit to travel in the first place. A patient may be scanned on a CT scanner in a remote area while a skilled doctor elsewhere can then evaluate the data. That means, high-end services and expert knowledge can be centralized and delivered to patients in remote areas.
How is Siemens Healthineers able to help address these issues?
Especially in rural parts of Asia, highly-qualified staff are both hard to come by and often costly. In addition, some examinations are just less common than others and so technologists may not be as confident in performing these.
With syngo Virtual Cockpit, you can get real-time support from an expert when needed, so a highly skilled technologist is able to perform the exam at a high quality despite in some cases being hundreds of kilometres away. Knowledge can be moved without having to move staff. Such a solution can transform care delivery and achieve a higher level of standardization that leads to more accurate diagnoses.
Another way to address the above issue is through so-called Value Partnerships. Within the partnerships, we assist providers with holistic solutions for the challenges they may be facing. By holistic, we do not just mean management of the technology and equipment or design and planning, we also offer value-added services like education, staff training, workflow simulation or best-practice sharing, all of which play a key role on our joint journey towards optimized care delivery. Given the lack of skilled professionals in many parts of the world, raising the knowledge level and maintaining it will be essential in providing better and more care.
What makes Siemens Healthineers support HMA?
I am passionate about healthcare. We have a great purpose to enable healthcare providers to increase value. We empower them on their journey towards expanding precision medicine, transforming care delivery, and improving patient experience, all enabled by digitalizing healthcare. HMA provides a great platform for us to connect, learn and share with key healthcare decision makers in Asia. I am very much looking forward to inspiring and impactful discussions in September.