Trends within MedTech jobs in Singapore
The Asia Pacific (APAC) medical technology (medtech) scene is thriving with Industry 4.0 sweeping the globe. According to recent reports, the region’s ever-growing patient population and demand for quality healthcare is saw a surge in the APAC MedTech market from USD 88 billion a year in 2015 to USD133 billion a year by 2020. This sets the course for APAC to surpass the European Union as the second largest MedTech market globally.
Particularly in Singapore, the MedTech ecosystem has been growing steadily. The latest data from Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) revealed that in 2019, the MedTech sector contributed SGD14.4 billion to Singapore’s economy, compared to SGD3.3 billion in 2009.
Increasing demand to fill medtech jobs in Singapore
Professionals within medical technology are needed in various sectors including but not limited to:
- Medical devices
- Research and development
- Hospitals and healthcare institutions
- Neurology and Radiochemistry
Before Covid-19, remote programming and monitoring of an array of devices were already becoming increasingly important. However, these features have now become even more paramount which leads to a significant talent gap in the sector as demand of medtech talent exceeds supply.
Real Staffing Singapore shares five trends that are causing a surge in number of medtech jobs in Singapore:
1. Covid-19 Singapore testing
Demand for Covid-19 Singapore testing regime will continue to accelerate over the next year, with volumes remaining high until vaccines are widely distributed, including booster shots. Due to the uncertainty of Covid-19 and how mutations or variants can develop, medtech companies continue to ramp up their manufacturing capabilities in anticipation for another year of Covid-19 testing in 2022.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Singapore has ramped up its Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing capacity from a few thousand tests per day to 60,000-70,000 tests per day. In addition, as Singapore’s Prime Minister shared about the importance of routinely and regularly testing people who may be asymptomatic, whether in normal work, social or community settings, the demand for testing kits such as Antigen Rapid Test (ART) self-test kits have also increased. With an extensive manufacturing capacity, local pharmas are producing several million self-test kits a month, to support the government in its efforts to keep the country safe.
Localising reagent production will also boost Singapore’s supply chain resilience. As an example, AbAsia BioLabs will be producing and supplying reagents that are used in Covid-19 test kits, allowing Singapore to mitigate any risks associated with global supply chain setbacks while it gears up to meet Singapore’s demand for increased testing.
2. Wearables and telemedicine
The number of people using devices such as smart watches have drastically increased in the last few years and with it the amount of data generated daily by users. Apple has attempted, and arguably failed, to pivot the Apple Watch into a diagnostic tool for heart-related conditions. However, it has found a better use for its commercial device as a data collector for medical research.
Besides apps, healthcare firms are also using digital tools to further improve productivity. Even dental companies are adopting digital tools such as intra-oral scanners to provide a more comprehensive diagnosis for patients and under a shorter treatment time.
Digital telemedicine and telehealth platforms are also becoming increasingly in demand within APAC. And almost all countries in Southeast Asia have telehealth and telemedicine providers to cater to this growing demand.
In Singapore, there are at least nine telemedicine providers that are currently supporting thousands of patients isolated under home recovery and quarantine orders. More providers are expected to tap in as cases continue to increase in the island nation.
Traditional bricks-and-mortar healthcare players are also beginning to embrace the new era of telemedicine. More than 50 General Practitioner (GP) clinics have come on board to partner teleconsultation providers under an initiative supported by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and other agencies.
Robot applications in the medtech industry have increased over the years and we are seeing more of this with social distancing efforts. Shanghai-based Keenon Robotics is using Singapore to kick off its international ambitions, with the help of its latest investor, SoftBank's Vision Fund 2, the Japanese conglomerate's robotics arm.
Keenon entered a partnership with SoftBank Robotics to launch its customer-facing robots, called the Keenbot, in both Singapore and Japan. These are intended for use at hospitals, hotels, government offices, and even elderly-care communities.
4. Diagnostic Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Technology that extracts valuable information out of unused data is only likely to grow in popularity as the amount of data produced increases. Further implementations of AI in diagnosis are also likely to go hand-in-hand with the increased use of wearable sensors.
However, according to Philips’ Annual Future Health Index (FHI) 2019 report, Singapore’s healthcare professionals have yet to leverage AI to its full potential for treatment and diagnosis. It is revealed in the report that healthcare professionals in Singapore are using AI technology for improving the accuracy and efficiency of administrative tasks such as staffing and patient scheduling (37%) than for diagnosis (28%), followed by flagging patient anomalies (26%) and facilitating remote patient monitoring (25%).
Nonetheless, progress has been made over the last two years, and in 2021, it was announced that we have launched a new AI tool that could lead to faster diagnosis of heart diseases, invented by researchers in Singapore. As almost one in three deaths in Singapore in 2019 was due to heart disease or stroke as seen in the figures from the Singapore Heart Foundation, this new tool will utilise electrocardiograms (ECGs) to detect heart abnormalities with an accuracy rate of 98.5 percent.
5. Digital twins
An increase in the amount of data available will likely result in better simulations within the medical technology industry. One of these innovative simulations is known as digital twins – digital recreations of systems regularly informed by sensors. Hospital wards or entire healthcare models could be simulated to predict potential complications in advance, allowing medical workers to prepare accordingly.
In Singapore, this technology is used to predict energy consumption, minimising waste, and maintaining appropriate power across the city’s grid. Similarly, players across manufacturing industries look to digital twins for predictive maintenance to save hours of downtime which reduces their profits.
While this may seem very distant to healthcare, it is highly transferable. Knowing when patient intake is likely to change will play a crucial role in planning and organising staff schedules. Similarly, decreasing the downtime of machinery enables a hospital to operate more efficiently, increasing the number of patients that can be helped at a given time.
In the future, this technology could be taken even further. Using sensors to update the digital twins of individual patients regularly could give doctors a constant update and predictive simulation of their patient. This advancement will require a society that progresses towards Industry 4.0, as higher standards of cybersecurity will be needed to protect both patients’ health and data.
What to expect within MedTech in 2022?
MedTech jobs in Singapore will continue to grow and demand for talent will be consistent with its push for a Smart Nation, especially within MedTech research and development. According to EDB, Singapore is home to over 60 multinational MedTech companies, operating as their regional headquarters for functions such as manufacturing, or research and development. There are also around 300 home-grown MedTech companies last year, which is more than double that of 2014, as noted by Enterprise Singapore (ESG). More than half were start-ups like CellWave Technologies, Credo Diagnostics Biomedical, FathomX, Recornea and Sporogenics just to name a few. MedTech start-ups tend to source for unique and niche talent on a project basis in which organisations will need to consider if a contract work model would be more suitable.
If you wish to engage talent within MedTech, or wish to find out more about the talent within MedTech, feel free to get in touch. Alternatively, if you are a professional within MedTech or wish to move into this burgeoning space, reach out to us via the form below.