Background: Demographic changes in the pattern of disease burden, escalating health expenditures and inequitable access to healthcare are global challenges. Irrespective of their level of development, all countries need to reform their health systems to prepare for the future emerging health needs, in order to meet their commitments of health systems strengthening, universal health coverage (UHC) and explicit targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Summary: We propose three core principles for the future health system as described herein. A health system is not simply a ‘cure delivery machine’ but part of a ‘social security system’ that engages all stakeholders through a shared vision and value of health and well-being, not merely an absence of diseases. The future health system shall provide people-centred, affordable care, tailored to the individual’s needs, accessible at any time and any place, and reflect the notion of leaving no one behind through a life course approach — underpinned by the SDGs. Information and communications technology (ICT) offers the potential to facilitate the realisation of these principles by improving the information flow between different parts of the health system through electronic means. We introduce Japan’s new data platform — Person-centred Open PLatform for wellbeing (PeOPLe) — planned to be introduced in 2020 as one example of an ICT-based intervention to realise the three proposed principles. PeOPLe integrates data collected throughout the life course to enable all people to receive affordable, personalised health and social care at any time and any place throughout their lifetime. Furthermore, we discuss the applicability of these principles and PeOPLe to the health systems context of Thailand and the Philippines, including elaborations on ICT transformation challenges. Conclusion: Current rising momentum and scale for ICTs in the UHC era offers a great opportunity to make a difference for countries. The PeOPLe concept is not only relevant to resource-rich countries; its applicability to other Asian countries could be feasible though it will need to be adapted to the various country contexts. We hope that this paper contributes to wider discussion around policy choices of ICT application for future health systems strengthening and UHC in order to achieve the SDGs.
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