The case begins in the first week of May 2015, when Henry Wu, the Programme Director of the Transformation Office at Alexandra Health System (AHS), is conferring with his team on the status of the Population Health programme, a joint initiative between AHS and Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH). Launched in September 2013, the programme sought to increase health awareness and encourage a targeted population of the island city-state’s residents to make positive lifestyle changes. Wu and his team are well aware of the challenges faced by the programme, but it is proving harder than expected to achieve the desired goals. They need an actionable strategy to improve the programme’s efficiency and efficacy, with an increased emphasis on programme uptake and measurable lifestyle changes.
The centrepiece of the programme is a systematic effort to attract residents to voluntary screening events, assess their health and lifestyle habits. The programme also provides a clear path co-developed by residents, community nurses and intervention specialists for unhealthy or high-risk residents to seek medical treatment or participate in lifestyle intervention programmes. This is easier said than done. Short-term challenges include achieving a predictable turnout for each screening event and increasing the percentage of residents who collect their screening reports. The most critical outcome would be encouraging them to take appropriate follow-up actions and be able to measure their habits and behaviour. In the longer term, the Population Health team faces the task of scaling up the program from an initial target population of 16,000 residents to cover the entire population of 220,000 residents over the age of 40 in the north of Singapore, with a view to serving as a model for similar efforts across the island.
The stakes are high for Singapore’s healthcare system and in particular for AHS, a healthcare cluster in the north that manages Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). KTPH has only been open for less than five years and is already experiencing serious capacity constraints. Most incoming patients are residents over the age of 50 who suffer from chronic diseases. Since Singapore’s population is rapidly ageing, these numbers are expected to further increase over time. Doctors and hospital administrators believe that a population health programme targeting people over the age of 40 could mitigate hospital resource strain by averting chronic diseases before symptoms became more acute as people age. By encouraging middle-aged residents to live healthier and more active lives, the anticipated rise in healthcare demand (and associated costs) for the next generation of elderly Singaporeans could be stabilised.
Students should work in teams on a proposal project that puts them into the shoes of Henry Wu, the Programme Director of the Transformation Office at AHS, and his team. Their proposal presentation should demonstrate a careful assessment and understanding of the complex and nuanced challenges faced by AHS as it seeks to overcome Singapore’s larger population health issues. It should ideally propose an innovative and creative solution to those challenges by applying concepts related to business and information technology.
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