HEALTHCARE | Contributed Content, Singapore
Lori Stetz, Stella George, Mitesh Patel

Keeping up with healthcare: How Singapore can remain an attractive expat destination


In 2018, Singapore emerged as the best place for expatriates to live and work in for the fourth year in a row - no mean feat considering it is also one of the most expensive cities in the world to reside in. Last month, a survey conducted by ECA International also found the city-state to be the most liveable city for Asian expats in 2018 for the 14th year in a row.

Healthcare is a key determinant of quality of life and we look at some expatriate healthcare trends that will shape this in 2019: 

1. Increasing awareness of the importance of workplace mental health
Employers and governments are becoming increasingly aware of how anxiety and depression affects an individual’s well-being. Dr Stetz explains that, “with mental health being taken more seriously in the workplace, many corporations, government bodies and policy makers are taking meaningful steps towards providing a more holistic wellness approach.” 

One good case study of this is Xero and the changes they made to their global wellbeing leave policy: employees are entitled to 14 days paid leave in addition to annual leave to care for their personal wellbeing.

Come 2024, the APAC region can expect a corporate wellness market worth US$7.4b. Separately, studies have shown that companies across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines that neglect corporate wellness had productivity losses totaling US$44.6b within a fiscal year.

Corporate well-being is increasingly entrenched in workplace cultures and strategies. A happier and healthier workforce enables higher productivity, job satisfaction and also helps to attract and retain talent. 

“Quite often, employees on assignment face intense pressures of a work promotion on top of managing their family life and health in an overseas context. Unfortunately, when it comes to prioritising these challenges, health and family usually take back seat,” says Dr George.

Other factors like frequent travel, always being available and ‘’switched-on’’ via technology; stressors of living abroad and absence of social support structures also have an impact. 

2. Growing influence of the social determinants of health
It is crucial that employers take into consideration factors that have a 90% influence people’s health: the conditions in which they live and work, including their behaviours and socio-economic circumstances. Known as the social determinants of health, these factors also include economic stability, education, community and family.

Expatriate assignments fail for many reasons, but most often it’s when the expectations of their new life doesn’t quite match up to the reality. For individuals, moving internationally can be relatively straightforward. But when expatriates are relocating with family, considerations expand to include spouses leaving their homes, children moving schools, leaving behind family and friends, language barriers and culture shock on arrival – and it becomes easy to see why it may not work out for everyone. 

Companies that enjoy low rates of failure in relocating staff put in place comprehensive support, before, during, and after their employees’ assignments. They recognise that for employees moving with families, they want the peace of mind IPMI affords them by ensuring their families have access to the best possible care - wherever they are in the world. 

3. The 4P health care model: personalisation, prevention, prediction and participation
Individuals increasingly consider themselves active participants in their health, rather than passive patients. Technology has transformed shopping and banking to become highly tailored experiences, and consumers expect a similar experience from their health care services. They are demanding greater personalisation and are increasingly willing to share data about themselves to support that outcome.

Healthcare companies can use this influx of information to tailor treatment plans for their patients, help them to better manage health conditions and encourage healthy behaviours. “The evolution of data storage and use will also mean advancements in electronic health records that accompany the expatriate from their home country, enabling consistent and personalised treatment plans wherever in the world they go,” adds Dr Patel.

Singapore constantly tops the rankings as one of the most liveable cities in the world for expatriates, with the provision of first-class healthcare being one of the factors for this distinction. Even then, we expect to see employers and health care providers partnering more with their globally mobile employees in the coming years - to offer all-round support for their health and wellbeing. 

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Lori Stetz, Stella George, Mitesh Patel

Lori Stetz, Stella George, Mitesh Patel

As Senior Medical Director for Aetna International, Dr. Lori Stetz provides guidance, support, and medical leadership for all care management activities around the globe. 

Dr. George is the Head of Care Management (Americas) and is responsible for the delivery of all of our care management programs through her team’s global clinical operations. 

As Medical Director for Aetna International, Dr. Patel provides guidance, support, and medical leadership for care management activities in Europe. 

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