Healthcare across the Asia-Pacific region is in a state of accelerated evolution, due not only to changing  demographics but also to disruptions in the traditional value chain to which emerging Asian markets have been slow to adapt, says a new report.

Leading private healthcare service providers in markets such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are likely to see15%-20% revenue rises due to continued growth in medical tourism, but a shift in balance of consumers where public healthcare is prioritised for those with greater need, plus growing consumer sophistication, means there is a need to focus on cost-efficient delivery of healthcare through shared responsibility across the value chain, says the study, from Frost & Sullivan.

There has been a significant increase in the older-age dependency ratio, especially in industrialised countries like Australia, Japan and Singapore, and aging populations have a higher demand for surgical interventions as well as supportive care. These countries are seeking a transition in healthcare infrastructure towards day or ambulatory surgery and home healthcare, but emerging Asian markets have been slower to adapt; their healthcare is still very much treatment-oriented and hospital-focused.

Singapore faces the same challenges, particularly with its public healthcare facilities becoming increasingly overcrowded, but the country is investment-intensive, with a particular focus on R&D. It is also ahead of the curve in technology adoption compared to other Asia-Pacific nations, and encourages consumers to use sophisticated technologies to support health and wellness.

“The traditional operating models are no longer relevant in today’s healthcare environment, and healthcare service providers need to focus on areas where they have expertise and can create efficiency and value-based care,” advises Rhenu Bhuller, senior vice president at Frost & Sullivan’s Asia-Pacific healthcare practice.

“Healthcare providers can move across the value chain through partnerships, collaborations or acquisitions to be able to provide end-to-end services, consisting not only of treatment, but financing, pharmacy and lab services as well as follow-on home care that will enable them to ensure resources are used effectively and for maximum benefit,” she adds.

The key trends which are driving healthcare system reform across the region and which healthcare providers and industry players need to consider include mobility and security of information, risk-sharing, rebalancing of public and private sector financing and delivery of care, plus use of data to drive decisions as well as patient engagement, says the study.

Moreover, governments in the region are increasingly introducing populist measures and streamlining healthcare regulations, and transparency in drug pricing is one of the most important steps towards affordable healthcare. Governments will also improve their drug reimbursement regimes to support access to care for underserved communities and for the elderly, and this may lead to tighter pricing controls and impact profitability, potentially leading manufacturers to decide to focus on the more lucrative private sector, it forecasts.

And with mandatory price cuts, prescribing controls, spending caps and generics promotion evolving into innovation/therapeutic value rating and cost-effectiveness assessment tools, this will lead to payments being tied to the quality and outcomes of care, it adds.