Singapore

Nurses at home may be robots in future

Patients being cared for at home could have robots helping to look after them in future. Such aid will start in hospitals, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday as he mapped out the information technology revolution transforming healthcare.

The ministry is developing prototypes "of smart wards integrated with smart logistics for what we hope will be hospitals of the future", he told the audience at the National Health IT Summit at the Singapore Expo.

Singapore embarked on its Health IT Master Plan (Hitmap) in 2014 and much has already been put in place, such as the National Electronic Health Records (NEHR) database of patients' medical information.

While it already has all the public sector patient data, it lacks the bulk of patient information from the private sector.

Mr Gan again urged the private and charity sectors "to digitise their records and come on board the NEHR".

Other innovations in use include automated systems that pack medicines with fewer errors than if done by humans.

Mr Gan wants to use IT to change the landscape of the healthcare sector by harnessing technology in effective ways.

He said: "Disruption can sometimes be painful... But if the disruptions have the potential to bring about meaningful benefits to patients and their families, and to our healthcare system, we must not be afraid to allow them to take place."

Hitmap should result in cheaper, better and faster healthcare for everyone.

Later this year, the Vital Signs Monitoring system will be launched to bring care to the community and the home. It will enable the remote monitoring of vital signs such as blood pressure, blood glucose and weight of patients.

Mr Gan said that by going digital intelligently, IT will support three shifts in healthcare focus: Going beyond healthcare to health, beyond the hospital to the community, and beyond quality to value.

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IT Masterplan set to improve quality of S'pore healthcare

Singapore is on track to having one of the most IT-enabled healthcare systems in the world, said Mr Bruce Liang, chief executive officer of Integrated Health Information Systems.

He was speaking to the media on Monday, ahead of the National Health IT Summit yesterday.

Mr Liang, the head of the Ministry of Health Holdings information technology company, said yesterday at the summit that the advent of IT is inevitable and urged the audience of 600 to "get on or get run over".

By 2021, when the Health IT Masterplan is completed, patients, doctors and healthcare providers will all be hooked up in a vast electronic database.

Conditions of patients with complex chronic ailments can be easily monitored in their homes and, if intervention is needed, this can be quickly provided so the patient does not end up in hospital.

All citizens will have access to their health records, either on their mobiles or computers.

RECORDS

The National Electronic Health Records, where a person's medical records are shared among all public health institutes as well as some private ones like community hospitals, is already available.

However, it is not yet comprehensive as it lacks most of the data from private healthcare.

Mr Liang gave the assurance that the system has many layers of security built into it to ensure it cannot be hacked into, so confidentiality will not be an issue. - SALMA KHALIK

healthMINISTRY OF HEALTH (MOH)IT