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 countries 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 the Philippines, COVID-19 has further highlighted the importance of deploying the right technologies for greater visibility and efficiency, even as hospitals cope with patient volumes and demand for medical resources. Telehealth and other forms of contactless consultation can reduce risks of healthcare workers and patients contracting the virus, and extend care to patients at home who require medical consultations.
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.
Similarly, the Philippines faces a shortage of skilled healthcare professionals to meet the country’s current healthcare needs. With an average of 3.7 doctors per 10,000 population in the Philippines, below the World Health Organization-prescribed ratio of 10 doctors per 10,0002, this places a strain on the current pool of doctors and nurses, who need to cope with the growing number of patients.
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).