Letters to the Editor
THE CRUCIBLE OF THE ‘NEW MEDICINE’
Advances in medical science and technology have provided doctors with many diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities. The development of medical specialisation and our hospital system has translated these possibilities into benefits to many of our patients. We have so far been able to sustain this because of our growing economy and a relatively young population.
However, we have to continually ensure that our healthcare system remains relevant to our society’s needs. With the proportion of elderly set to increase three-fold within the next 20 years, our present system of financing and organisation of healthcare has to evolve with the changing needs.
The pre-occupation with vocational training and the ethics of good doctor-patient relationship, important as they may be, is insufficient in addressing the new challenges. We are faced with increasing demands of providing quality care given the limited resources. Attempts at delivering comprehensive healthcare through a dominant hospital-centred system cannot be equitably sustainable for our society in the long run.
Many doctors have difficulties reconciling their obligations to individual patients, the clinical demands imposed by wider options, and the concept of managing medical resources. However, this does not relieve the medical profession of its higher calling in ensuring equitable healthcare for all. We must be increasingly concerned with the financing and delivery of healthcare, not just as healthcare providers alone, but also to help redefine healthcare policies and the management of resources.
Most reputable medical journals published by national medical associations therefore contain articles on healthcare policies, economics and ethics in addition to scientific articles. News of medical events, trends, controversies and debates are chronicled. These journals are the crucibles of life for the medical profession and provide the necessary stimulus for adaptation and evolution.
The new SMJ should be our crucible of the "New Medicine”.