Singapore

Core of healthcare must be transformed by technology: Gan Kim Yong

Health Minister calls for reinvention of healthcare system using technology as an enabler

Patients who are unwell could, in the future, be chatting with software that can assess their conditions and advise them to visit the right hospital or clinic.

Such chatbots, which require patients to type in basic information such as their symptoms and medical history, can even prioritise seriously ill patients and cut their waiting times at hospitals.

By the end of this year, a list of chatbot technology providers will be made available to healthcare professionals, Singapore's healthtech agency Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) said yesterday.

Both parties could work together to develop the chatbot, which can then be rolled out to public healthcare institutions, IHiS added.

The agency said such technology will allow healthcare providers to attend to patients who need care the most.

IHiS announced this during the 10th edition of the annual National Health IT Summit yesterday.

About 800 guests from the healthcare and technology sectors attended the summit at the Singapore Expo, organised by IHiS.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong kicked off the day-long event with a speech on technologies in healthcare, noting that while "some are making current healthcare models better and more efficient, others have the potential to revolutionise how we receive care services to live more healthily".

TECHNOLOGIES

He cited telemedicine and artificial intelligence as some of the other technologies adapted by the healthcare sector, and commended the use of smartphone apps and step-trackers in the annual National Steps Challenge.

The challenge, which encourages Singaporeans to walk more and track their daily number of steps, has attracted more than 670,000 participants in its current season, almost double that of the previous one.

Mr Gan also emphasised the need to transform the very core of the healthcare system instead of just tacking on technologies to current healthcare services and solutions.

He said: "While digitisation and automation of existing processes bring benefits, true transformation and quantum leaps can only happen when we go deeper to redesign processes and reinvent delivery models and concepts, with technology as an enabler."

Mr Gan also noted that the Government could use technology more effectively in healthcare, suggesting that one way to do this was for the public and private sectors to collaborate more.

MEDICAL & HEALTH