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Empowering the consumer in heart health management

future health index
Peter Quinlan
Jan 23, 2020 - reading time 9 mins
Heart disease is a key health issue as the global cause of death, with significant prevalence across APAC nations and Singapore. Besides its growing prevalence, there is low consumer perception of personal risk of heart disease, and a false awareness of safety created by this awareness gap. There is an urgent need to encourage early detection of heart disease and tracking of health indicators by individuals themselves to tackle heart disease. Philips’s Future Health Index has also identified a gap between individual monitoring of heart health and sharing of this data with healthcare professionals – a missed opportunity to tackle heart disease. Caroline Clarke, CEO of Philips ASEAN Pacific, outlines the importance of early detection and how the individual’s use of digital technologies and self-monitoring can help stem the growth of the world’s leading killer. 

Globally, ischemic heart disease (IHD) has again emerged the top cause of death1, and according to Philips’ Future Health Index 2019 findings a further 34% of individuals across 15 countries surveyed report cardiology-related health issues. This is in line with the World Health Organization’s statistics2 reporting that IHD and stroke are the world's biggest killers.


Asia Pacific is a heterogeneous region, and diets, lifestyles and health levels differ across countries. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s “The Cost of Silence”3report  on cardiovascular disease (CVD), the total costs of IHD and stroke in the eight countries/territories in this study — China, Australia, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand — is an estimated US$53 billion that is attributable to four modifiable risk factors: smoking, hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol

empowering the consumer in heart health management

Singapore takes up almost 10% of that amount – here, the same modifiable risk factors account for an estimated US$4.9 billion or 60% of the total indirect and direct costs. Based on Singapore Heart Foundation’s statistics4, 17 people die every day from CVD in Singapore and nearly one in three deaths in Singapore is due to heart disease or stroke.

CVD can seemingly be asymptomatic, meaning that it may develop symptoms later and thus requires early treatment in the early stages. The Philips Heart Health quiz, launched ahead of World Heart Day 2019 (commemorated on 29 September annually), aims to help the public recognize risk factors and early symptoms of heart disease, and to be more aware of individual heart health and lifestyle habits that impact it.


There is a need to encourage early detection of heart disease, especially as a heart health survey by Manulife indicated that one out of two Singaporeans perceive having little or no personal risk of getting heart disease, while close to half disclosed a low understanding of heart disease – suggesting a false sense of safety created by an awareness gap5.


The Future Health Index 2019 also reported that more than half of Singaporean healthcare professionals often, or always, advise their patients to track key indicators of health such as their blood pressure (61%), physical activity (57%) and weight (53%). However, 43% of Singaporeans have never shared health data that they have collected from digital technology or mobile apps with healthcare professionals. As a result, Singaporeans fall below the 15-country average (47%) in contacting healthcare professionals and taking action based on the health-related data they have collected (34%).


This is a missed opportunity for proactive health management as we found that globally, when patients share data with their healthcare professionals, they perceive the quality of care they receive to be higher (74% vs 66%). In the face of CVD that is notoriously known as a clinically silent disease, this could help tremendously with early detection.


On a more fundamental level, there is a clear need for individuals to track personal health indicators. Only 31% of individuals who have a medical history of cardiac health issues report always/often using digital health technology or mobile health apps to track their blood pressure, compared with an even lower 20% of individuals overall.


Digital health technology and mobile apps provide a sense of control of one’s own health. Surveyed individuals who have a medical history of cardiac health issues are more likely than individuals overall to agree that they use digital health technology or mobile health apps because they make them feel more in control of their health.


A fundamental shift in the approach to heart health and cardiac care is needed. At varying degrees, CVD affects family dynamics, financial situations and individual employment, and can lead to severe disabilities, frequent hospitalizations and intensive long-term care.


Regular health screenings to preempt issues and more active dialogue with medical practitioners should be reinforced by the individual’s access to self-monitoring tools, preventative care and reciprocal data sharing with their healthcare professionals.


On an ecosystem level, patient-centric digital technologies that enable better data access and information flow between patients and practitioners across the health continuum – healthy living, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and home care – will help evolve the future of healthcare into a more connected, integrated system with patients at its core and health outcomes as the ultimate goal.



This article first appeared in the January Issue of Asia-Pacific Biotech News

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Second, technologies and solutions are needed to help ensure appropriate and effective allocation and management of various human and physical resources in the ecosystem of radiology. This allows many people, from receptionists and technologists, to radiologists and physicians, as well as hospital administrators, to smoothly perform the entire process of radiology.

Third, the way clinical capabilities and operating efficiency are connected must align with a robust information technology foundation, providing the foundations for future developments powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Through big data analysis, AI translates large amounts of data into actionable insights. These insights can empower clinicians, hospital administrators and patients to achieve better health outcomes at lower cost. The true value of AI can only be realized when it’s combined with a deep understanding of the clinical and operational context in which it’s applied.

If this radiology ecosystem is implemented, you can immediately see how patients, medical professionals, and hospital staff experience the entire journey of radiology. With abundant and meaningful clinical data, clinicians can make more accurate diagnosis, and the workflow of medical staff and hospital workers can be simplified by reducing inefficiencies, bottlenecks or wasted time in the whole process of diagnostic radiology. Hospitals can maximize the productivity of radiology departments. This ecosystem provides patients with a more comfortable and positive care experience, and helps them manage their health at lower cost through a quicker and more precise diagnosis. As a result, this virtuous ecosystem of diagnostic radiology will serve as a backbone for realizing value-based healthcare and contributing to the realization of the Quadruple Aim in the healthcare industry.