Hospitals in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than they were a year ago. They are beginning to shift their priorities from COVID-19 recovery back to fundamentals, such as improving safety and operations. Further, they are continuing to prioritise digitalisation and innovation — with an eye towards solutions that will increase operational efficiency and improve patient satisfaction.
Executives’ outlook is reported in L.E.K. Consulting’s 2022 Hospital Priorities study in APAC, which engaged more than 400 hospital executives of both public and private providers in eight key markets: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.
Executives report that hospitals are on track for a full post-pandemic recovery, with elective surgeries returning to pre-pandemic levels. Approximately 80%-90% report they have achieved a balanced budget or positive EBITDA. Hospitals across the region are expecting a strong bounceback in revenue this year. But the gains are still fragile. Approximately 20% of large private hospitals are facing budget deficits. Hospital executives report a need for continued cost reductions.
To speed the recovery, executives are shifting their focus away from pandemic preparedness and towards operational and clinical improvements — over 40% expect to increase spending on physical and digital infrastructure, and 38% expect to spend more on medical supplies such as innovative drugs and devices. Reversing a trend, providers are now shifting away from building free-standing outpatient centres and towards building new in-hospital treatment facilities such as diagnostic imaging centres.
Digitalisation is a high priority for many executives. Hospitals are noting that the value of digital health goes beyond increasing revenue streams. It can also improve operational efficiency and increase patient satisfaction. Across most of APAC, over 20% of hospitals are using digital solutions as part of standard care and administrative purposes.
Executives in most APAC countries expect that digital solutions will increase staff efficiency and increase patient satisfaction. This is another change — in the past, executives focused more on digital solutions as a means of reducing medical errors.
Despite the enthusiasm for digital solutions, concerns remain — 63% of executives are concerned about the impact on patient privacy, and 45% worry about incompatible solutions.
What is most clear is that APAC hospital executives believe they are entering a post-pandemic world — and they are optimistic, though sometimes guardedly so, about their hospitals’ current situation and future prospects. For more details, please download L.E.K. Consulting’s 2022 Hospital Priorities study.
Calvin Wijaya, Principal
Arnaud Bauer, Principal
Mei Young, Senior Manager