Trends in the Healthcare Landscape [Dr Tan Yan Yuan- Family Doctor & Director of My Family Clinic]
We read and experienced first hand, the technology-driven change in every aspect of our lives, and even more so in the area of healthcare due to the impact of COVID-19
pandemic. Consumerism and transparency have been trending and have taken on an added significance in the past few months, as new vaccines and treatments emerge.
What are some of the challenges that comes along with this accelerated pace of innovation?
In this blogpost, we have Dr Tan Yan Yuan to share with us the trends in the healthcare landscape.
Doctor Tan Yan Yuan is a family physician with a strong focus on primary care, aesthetics and medical technologies with a desire to leverage on technological advancement to optimize patient care, transcending conventional boundaries in the healthcare landscape. His ambition is to improve regional quality of healthcare and access to health care services.
1) So Yan Yuan, can you start by sharing more about yourself and how you got started in this industry?
I joined this industry by default when I graduated in 2012, and since then I've focused my career on primary care ( I’m a family physician by training), along with running an aesthetic clinic and a family medicine clinic as well. I also have an interest in Medical Technology and Artificial intelligence in healthcare!
Healthcare has always been something interesting to me ever since I was in secondary school, that was why I chose to be a doctor. It is an industry that whatever you do can have a direct impact on your patients and improve the healthcare of whoever that you come into contact with. This is an industry that I’m sure is meaningful and I see a lot of room for further development in.
2) Having been in the healthcare industry for the past 8 years, how has the delivery of health services changed?
I think the delivery of health services has changed a lot over the past few years, especially in the last 2-3 years, which was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the advent of technology and all, we’re doing more of Telemedicine, doing things like video consultations where I can speak to you and discuss your condition. I can also have treatments and medicine delivered to you, along with incorporating mobile payment for more efficiency.
Across all industries, every industry is undergoing disruptive or definitive transformation. We need to change our concept of healthcare services delivery and make it more community-centred, which can come in the form of delivering medical care to our patients’ doorstep, instead of waiting for them to turn up at ours. So these are the differences i felt over the past few years.
3) What would you say about the future of the healthcare industry?
Healthcare industry is quite unique, it’s an evergreen industry, it’s not so cyclical and unlike oil and gas or banking, we’ll always be in need of healthcare, especially in the region. Singapore is an ageing population, and in the region, we have Indonesia and Malaysia with a growing middle class that has a growing desire for better healthcare, so I think that in this region there is going to be a need for better access to quality healthcare.
As for what else is in the future, I think healthcare is going to transcend borders, especially even with travel restrictions. Provision of healthcare might even be able to transcend between national boundaries, for example, teleconsultations potentially can be done across countries and I think more and more AI is going to be incorporated in healthcare. Previously, I was working with a MedTech company as well, which does a development of chatbot, whereby you key in your symptoms and it will tell you the likely diagnosis that you have and where and when should you seek help with.
I think more and more of all of these AI incorporated products and telemonitoring will be the future of healthcare.
4) How accurate is the use of AI speeding up the process of patients and doctor consultations ?
A lot of the time, these products have a black box label that says they are not to be used as a diagnostic tool, instead more of advisory, and at the end of the day the key to machine learning is training. As the model gets more and more diseases incorporated in it, with more and more patient profiles being tested through the model, it gets more accurate.
At the start, it follows an algorithm based training, whereby you train the product and it follows the algorithm and it tells you the likely diagnosis. Some studies even show that AI has some kind of non-inferiority compared to doctor’s judgement, as if you compare it to a doctor like myself for instance with 9 years of experience, there is a limit to how much you can train a doctor and how long a doctor can continue to see patients before they retire. However, machines can continue to increase in memory space and they don’t retire, the amount of knowledge you can build in an algorithm can be a hundred years and over. In time to come with the neural network and all, they might be able to diagnose very accurately based on clinical inputs and that’s something very exciting as well.
5) People have been saying that technology might be replacing doctors, but there’s definitely a sense of human touch needed in diagnosing of patients? What are your thoughts about this?
Yes, there have been a lot of talks and doctors are worried about AI replacing them. However, I think we should look at it as more of AI augmenting or assisting our role in caring for patients, for instance, the disease symptom checker we were talking about.
If patients can key in the symptoms they do have before they arrive in the consultation room, then we have some preliminary data to walk around with.
For instance, if I know you have certain conditions like fever or vomiting and for how many days, then all these data can be presented to me beforehand and when I see you I can focus on the physical examination which the AI doesn’t do at this point of time, this allows the skillsets of a doctor to be more utilised.
Hence, whether it replaces a doctor, I would say not yet and hopefully not at this point. Even for radiologists, we’re always taught that the AI will come and report the scan instead of us, but that’s not exactly true as well. the AI picks out areas that require closer attention whereby the radiologist can focus on those areas. Hence,for example instead of reporting 10 scans a day, the radiologist can report 50 scans a day. This alllows attention to be drawn to areas where things are wrong and allows the doctor to do more collaborative work, such as speaking to the pathologist and the clinician, discussing with them patient management rather than purely reporting scans.
At this point in time, AI in healthcare is relatively young and we hope in the future it can assist in the delivery of even better care to patients.
AI should be looked at augmenting instead of substituting doctors.
6) When we talk about human life, ethics definitely come into concern. Other than these regulations mentioned, are there any other parameters that startups might mislook when trying to start something in this healthcare sector?
I think whatever we have to come up with has to be ethical, such as ‘do no harm to the patient, and bring benefits to the patient’. I think from a startup or product development perspective it’s important to identify areas of need and is there a role for AI to fulfil that need. This should be done instead of reversing the thinking and saying ‘I just want to implement AI wherever I can’, and then thinking about whether it would be useful to the stakeholders later. We should put the horse before the cart, which is something I think that current healthcare system is not able to address very well.
There are areas that are very labour intensive, and one should think about whether we can come up with a solution whereby we can reduce manpower usage, and then working out whether there’s a role for AI to come in and facilitate the whole process, rather than reversing it.
7) Personally, what are the white spaces in the healthcare or the life sciences industry that you feel that entrepreneurs should focus on solving through technology?
I feel that the current tension in biomedical science and all is in vaccine creation, but that’s more for COVID, in the shorter term. How we look at things should be to look at the whole demographics and the healthcare demand. For instance, in terms of an ageing population, what are things we can do to help, and whether there is a use case in the future as the population gets older. For example, a lot of developments have happened such as using AI to check for retinal (eye) diseases. Similarly, products that can test for foot sensations can be used on a very big scale like testing elderly patients above 50-60 years old. Others include remote monitoring of patients, checking their gait, walking styles and looking out for warning signs of Parkinsons. As the population gets older, these are areas of needs that we probably need to address and they’re probably areas that are of interest to future investors and developers.
So there’s actually a large area for startups to can come in with these ‘How can we do better’ questions.
8) Lastly, why did you choose to come onboard with NUS Angel Ventures?
I was an alumni of NUS, I graduated in 2012 and it’s just second nature to contribute back to NUS. I'm always happy to take on students and budding entrepreneurs and give some ideas and guidance along the way, and it’s natural to me to give back to NUS angel ventures.
Thank you Dr Tan Yan Yuan for taking time off to have this interview with us!
We are grateful to have you as an investor of NUS Angel Ventures.
If you have any other follow up questions, do email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch the full video interview here: https://lnkd.in/gdW3iTf
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