A brighter future for Taiwan’s senior citizens A comprehensive e-healthcare network 台灣銀髮族 未來會更好醫療照護 e網打盡

Taiwan’s ICT sector is a hotbed of innovation, and information technology is now starting to challenge traditional models of healthcare provision, creating new business opportunities in the process. An important issue facing the ICT sector is how to take advantage of these opportunities to give the traditional healthcare industries new innovation capabilities. In order to gain a better understanding of key trends and the outlook for future development in the healthcare sector, Ideas magazine invited a group of experts to participate in a discussion forum, with the aim of forging consensus.

Deputy Minister Ch’en Tsai-Chin of the Department of Health noted that industries in the early stages of development often need the government to provide incentive measures, which can take several different forms: incentives to encourage R&D, tax breaks, and direct investment by the government.

As regards incentives to encourage the use of domestically-produced healthcare equipment within Taiwan, besides the provision of tax breaks and investment incentives, it is also important for the government to take the lead by encouraging the 600 – 700 hospitals and clinics in Taiwan to adopt domestically-produced equipment, so as to support the growth of the domestic medical appliance industry.

Lee You-Chuan, Vice President of Taipei Medical University, pointed out that the pharmaceuticals system cannot be managed effectively without adequate information, and that it is important for patients to have access to their own medical records. While some people have suggested that this would raise privacy issues, the only way to combat the waste of healthcare resources is to make sure that health information is readily available to patients; the necessary ancillary measures to ensure security etc. can always t be put in place using ICT.

Regarding the question of medical tourism, Lee said that Taiwan is not yet really prepared to provide medical tourism services. The foreign language skills of hospital personnel are clearly inadequate, and hospital kitchens are not capable of preparing halal food; given the large number of Muslims in Southeast Asia, this fact alone is sufficient evidence of Taiwan’s lack of readiness.
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