There is already a shortage of healthcare professionals in Singapore. The available pool of talent and experienced professionals is shrinking. At the same time, Singapore has an ageing population, not very different from innumerable other countries around the world. The demographic shift along with the increasing need of quality healthcare is prompting the Singaporean government to take steps so it can attract tech talent. The amalgamation of healthcare and technology is more quintessential now than ever before. Simply growing the healthcare industry or having more people venture into various specializations would not suffice. There has to be more stress on health tech, as that is what would change the very nature of healthcare in years and decades to come.
Modern healthcare systems around the world rely on medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and support staff, as well as on technology, that includes engineers, software developers, designers working on state of the art hardware and original equipment manufacturers. The growth of health tech is inevitable. The real question however remains of whether or not Singapore will have enough talent to meet the growing needs of the ageing population. By the end of this decade, the city state will require around thirty thousand additional healthcare staff in various capacities or roles. Within the same time-frame, Singapore would have more than six hundred thousand people above the age of sixty five. In three years, around twelve hundred jobs are expected to be available in just the health related tech alone. The government, a few public and some private companies are trying to attract tech talent from various sectors to healthcare.
Technological experts are usually mobile and their skills are relevant beyond their core specialization. Over the last three to four decades, technology from various realms, be it imaging or optics, radiation or machine based learning, has been incorporated in a myriad of ways to upgrade traditional healthcare practices. Today, technology plays a critical role in diagnosis, treatment and recovery. The impetus from the Singaporean government will not only boost the growth of health related tech to benefit the citizens but also pave the way to export such technological products and services to countries and cities around the world, where a similar demographic shift is presently underway.
There are already programs in place to familiarize nurses with health related tech. The focus is gradually shifting from disease based specialization to being accustomed with different technologies so the same professional can cater to many patients. At the same time, healthcare providers are inducting technologies including automation to help free up time of doctors, nurses and medical staff, so they can focus more on patients rather than being tied up with repetitive and mundane tasks that are more clerical or supportive than consequential for the well-being and recovery of patients.
Integrated Health Information Systems has teamed up with Workforce Singapore and Infocomm Media Development Authority to help fifty professionals in their thirties through forties to transition to healthcare. A programme called TechSkills Accelerator is the larger initiative that is aiming to train twenty one thousand professionals. Singapore Management University has planned to roll out a new degree program in Health Economics and Management. The graduates would be trained in data analytics and many other tech skills relevant for modern healthcare.
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