- Patient empowerment and self-care
Patient empowerment is lacking in many Asian countries. Weaknesses include a lack of overall efforts to improve health literacy (especially among poorer people), as well as limited awareness among patients of the options available to them when navigating health services. In addition, self-care is an under-used tool in the countries we studied, despite its clear utility and relatively low cost.
- Political will
Political backing for integrated care is a mixed bag. Some countries (Singapore being a prime example) dedicated funding and policymaking space 10-15 years ago, putting them on a stronger footing. Elsewhere progress has been made in recent years, with rapid catch-up in some cases. In India, commitments have been extremely limited, and the lack of progress is clear.
Implementation of integrated care and self care is dependent on two specific areas: a move towards community-based services and improved data infrastructure. In terms of the former, the countries studied have made great strides in establishing extensive networks of community-care facilities. In terms of data infrastructure, the picture is less rosy, with fully integrated, live-updated Electronic Health Records (EHRs) a rarity. Some countries lack any EHR infrastructure, while others operate numerous systems, split between regions, different public or private providers, and individual facilities. These same fault lines also complicate the flow of financing, hindering the integration of services for individual patients.
- Carve out a central space for self-care
- Educate people about the care continuum and optimal treatment options
- Welcome patient organisations as stakeholders in policymaking
- Develop robust data infrastructure—namely interoperable, real-time EHRs