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Oct 06, 2020

Younger healthcare professionals in APAC resilient despite COVID-19, yet face hurdles in driving change finds Philips’ Future Health Index 2020 report

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today announced findings from its study of 15 countries, the Future Health Index. It reveals the dedication and commitment of younger healthcare professionals to improve healthcare amidst COVID-19 and puts the spotlight on experiences and challenges that call for greater change within healthcare.

Now in its fifth year, this year’s survey is the first global survey of its kind on younger generation of healthcare professionals under the age of 40. The Future Health Index (FHI) 2020 report: ‘The age of opportunity: Empowering the next generation to transform healthcare’, paints a realistic picture of the state of healthcare systems on the eve of the COVID-19 crisis, covering nearly 3,000 respondents across 15 countries.

 

This puts the spotlight on local younger healthcare professionals who will bear the responsibility of charting the future healthcare needs of their countries. The findings reveal an exceptional attitude and belief in the work they do, gaps between medical training and actual practice, and their optimistic outlook for healthcare’s digital future. Based on a follow up survey[1] months into the pandemic, these perspectives were further strengthened by their experiences tackling COVID-19 in the past months.

 

The Future Health Index 2020 report identifies three core themes and critical findings:

Younger doctors are more dedicated and firm believers in technology

 

At the onset of COVID-19, 82% of younger healthcare professionals surveyed in APAC countries2 said they are satisfied with their work, despite seeing more patients per week (103 on average) than their peers in the United States of America (99) or the Netherlands (65). Potentially as a result of higher patient volumes, 34% say work-related stress have made them consider leaving the profession, as compared to Saudi Arabia (45%) or the United States of America (46%).

 

Months into COVID-19, the experiences of younger doctors have been impacted, with an outlier being Singapore. The Future Health Index Insights report found that younger doctors surveyed in Singapore remain committed and positive – with the experiences and lessons learned during this period leaving them with a deeper feeling of purpose at work (57%, vs 39%  average of the 5 countries surveyed) and having greater appreciation from patients (64%, vs 47% average of the 5 countries surveyed).

 

Notwithstanding their experiences working during the COVID-19 pandemic, 68% of younger doctors in Singapore say they are more likely to stay in medicine, compared to the US (13%) and Germany (23%).

 

With APAC countries’ focus and investments in digitalizing healthcare, younger healthcare professionals here are also convinced of the potential of data and technology to improve both their own work experience and that of their patients.

They see the benefits of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and telehealth to transform healthcare, particularly during COVID-19. Almost nine in 10 (87%) agree that the right digital health technologies have the potential to reduce their workload, while 77% say they will improve patients’ experiences, and 76% say adopting them could help decrease their stress levels.

In Malaysia, there is potential for greater use of technologies to automate and help alleviate repetitive, labour intensive tasks in the medical field. Digital solutions such as telemedicine are key to overcoming current physical barriers of access to care, while smart patient monitoring solutions can help identify potential risks intelligently, easing the burden of healthcare professionals.

 

Gaps persist in career expectations, experiences of APAC’s younger doctors

 

Despite their dedication to their patients and firm belief in the work they do, younger healthcare professionals surveyed in APAC are concerned about the skills gaps they face, or a shortfall in career reality compared to their expectations during their medical education (42%). Work-related stress, potentially leading to burnout are also a reality for 73% younger healthcare professionals here, which could be impacted by the higher patient volumes they see per week.

 

In Malaysia, while the current ratio of healthcare workers to people is 1:186, above the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 1:225, there is potential to advance efforts to expand the healthcare workforce by also looking into the work experiences of current healthcare workers. Additionally, tapping on innovation can help healthcare professionals build additional skill sets in a digital era, for better patient outcomes.

 

Alongside the digitalization of healthcare, APAC’s younger healthcare professionals also feel underprepared when dealing with data. Around half (47%) say their medical education prepared them a little or not at all for data-related aspects of their jobs such as analysis and interpretation. Despite this, 51% also say they receive continuous training in this area in their hospital and practice, in response to closing the data-related skills gaps.

At least half (56%) of APAC’s younger healthcare professionals believe they can drive change in how their hospital is changed or managed, yet among those who feel they can’t drive change or don’t know if they can, 48% feel that their voices and suggestions are not acted upon, listened or acknowledged. The decisions made by non-medical stakeholders was also noted to negatively impact 30% of the region’s younger healthcare professionals, affecting their overall job satisfaction.

 

Beyond the present, many still worry about not being able to cope with the evolving needs of healthcare practice. Increased administration burdens, such as documenting electronic medical records and increased litigation/legal exposure, have a major negative impact on the professional satisfaction of younger healthcare professionals here (38% and 48% respectively).

 

Empowering APAC’s younger healthcare professionals

 

Despite the challenges faced, the FHI study also identified a clear demand among this generation of younger healthcare professionals for a work environment that fosters collaboration and offers flexibility.

 

Chief among these is creating a supportive environment and embracing technology to alleviate burdens and drive engagement. Key workplace factors important to APAC’s younger healthcare professionals surveyed when choosing where to work include having access to the latest medical equipment and technology (69%), professional autonomy (65%), a collaborative culture (65%), and support of work-life balance (71%).

 

“Younger healthcare professionals today shoulder the responsibility of transforming the future of healthcare, yet many still feel their views are unheard, experience hurdles in non-clinical aspects in practice, and are subject to stress as a result of their tireless dedication to caring for patients,” said Caroline Clarke, Market Leader, Philips ASEAN Pacific. “COVID-19 has revealed the gaps and opportunities for transformative healthcare change. Chief among them is nurturing and providing adequate support, platforms and adoption of digital technologies to empower healthcare professionals to act now for a better healthcare future.”

 

Since 2016, Philips has conducted original research to help determine the readiness of countries to address global health challenges and build efficient and effective healthcare systems. For details on the Future Health Index methodology and to access the 2020 report in its entirety, including the Future Health Index Insights: COVID-19 and Young Healthcare Professionals research, visit the Future Health Index site.

1 The Future Health Index Insights: COVID-19 and Younger Healthcare Professionals survey supplements the main Future Health Index 2020 report, capturing feedback from 500 doctors under the age of 40 in five countries: Singapore, the United States of America, China, France and Germany. The findings reveal how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the attitudes and experiences of younger doctors, and how they believe the healthcare industry should change in response.

2 APAC countries surveyed for FHI 2020: Australia, China, Japan, India, Singapore

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips generated 2019 sales of EUR 19.5 billion and employs approximately 81,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at www.philips.com/newscenter.

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Sheo Rai

Sheo S. Rai

Senior Manager
Brand and Communications
Philips ASEAN Pacific

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