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Inside IHIS Innovation Space: How IoT, Drones, and GPS Technology will transform Healthcare

Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), the public healthcare IT shared services provider and subsidiary of Ministry of Health Holdings (MOHH), helps integrate IT into health care services and operations across Singapore. As the Singapore healthcare ecosystem is fairly complex, there is a great demand for more efficient and expedited services.

IHIS hosts a bevy of tech solutions and gadgets, specifically catered to the health industry. There are different solutions created for patients and healthcare staff. Some of which include: Outpatient Pharmacy Automated System, Digital Pathology System, Real-Time Ambulatory Patient Information Deployment Enabler (RAPIDE) system, Electronic Health Intelligence System, Tele-Geriatics, Mobile Apps, and other such services.

Recently, IHIS opened up its own ‘Innovation Space’ which showcases some of the latest healthcare innovations and aims to promote innovation culture amongst the staff and visitors.

The Innovation Space serves as a testbed for the latest healthcare technologies to produce solutions which will shape the SMART Community Care, SMART Clinic, SMART Ward, and SMART Homecare.

OpenGov spoke to Noah Tay, Senior Programme Manager, IHIS, about the recent developments within his team and how the Innovation Space will play a role in educating and inspiring those who walk through it.

ihis innovation

IoT and other connected devices in Healthcare

IoT has proven to be a great avenue for healthcare support and innovation. Through IoT and connected devices, health related information is gathered via a body worn or home wireless sensors and transmitted to the caregiver via an information gateway such as a mobile phone. IHIS is actively looking at a range of IoT solutions which they can integrate within the healthcare sector.  

“We are trying to adopt some different methodology for IoT, because IoT is something we can use at the hospital and in home care,” said Mr. Tay, “With IoT, we could use for elderlywho are staying alone and for chronic disease patients. We often think how can we use IoT to extend the care outside of the hospital.”

IoT has proven to be especially useful for those ageing-in-place as we have seen in multiple projects across Singapore, like the ShineSeniors program. IHIS is collaborating with IDA to see how they can further improve elderly care, focusing especially on factors of sociability and communication.

“We are working with government research agencies on Smart Eldercare projects. We are seeing how we can use technology to make the elderly more communicable,” said Mr. Tay, “How can we integrate them into the community using frontier technologies? For example, they could use table top projections to play a game of mah-jong with others. Gaming helps them be more active and be connected to the community”

The team at IHIS is also looking at Google Glass to develop apps that will help doctors receive critical information on-the-go. As it is hands-free, doctors can operate Google Glass using voice commands if they are moving from one ward to another, making it more functional than a mobile phone.

“To me, this is probably one of the best designed wearables that can allow the doctor to see the patient demographics, x-rays, lab results, and other such patient information. We have developed such prototypes to help the users think further, this will start to generate more ideas for Google Glass applications,” Mr. Tay told us.

Mr. Tay told us that he often encourages people to come into the Innovation Space to test out the Google Glass so they get a better feel for it, how to operate it, and they can share what they would intend to use the technology for. This has helped the team develop new apps which would are catered to the health care workflow and demands of health care professionals.  

There is also the Oculus which uses Virtual Reality Technology, which IHIS is looking to use for patient rehab. 

ihis innovation

Gesture Based Solutions and Drones make their way on the scene

IHIS is looking at Gesture Based Solutions that will prove useful to Doctors during certain procedures. Gesture Based Solutions allow for hands-free interaction with hospital applications through natural movements and gestures.

“Gesture Based Technology is something we would really like to use in the hospital. Especially for infection control reasons, doctors can interact with software applications using hand gestures,” said Mr. Tay.

Another area where gesture based solutions can be used, is for remote rehab. When patients are unable or unavailable to meet their caregiver in person, they can use gesture based applications and have their results reported to them.

“For example, a patient will be able to use gesture based solutions to perform rehab activities at home. From this, the healthcare provider will be able to monitor their activity and see if the patient requires follow up therapies,” Mr. Tay stated.

Recently, OpenGov reported on an example of remote rehab solutions, witnessed at the IDA IExperience Centre. Here, we played a basketball video game created for patient at-home rehab.

Drones are an increasingly popular area of technology which could help in delivering hospital items such as medicine, documents, etc.

“A COO from one of the hospitals reached out to us to explore the option of using drones. At this hospital, there is a clinic which is located across a highway, too far for a nurse to walk to and too near to use a vehicle to drive over,” Mr. Tay told us.

Drones may also be deployed to check on building structure to detect cracks, smokes, leakages and also locate specific items/ equipment within the campus.

“Drones are commonly used to reduce manpower for risky maintenance of the building exteriors,” stated Mr. Tay, “Other countries are using heavy duty drones to deliver medications to villages through humanitarian work. We also see Amazon using drones to make deliveries to the home.”

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Emerging Technologies on IHIS Radar

IHIS continues to track down the latest in frontier technologies which have shown opportunities in the healthcare sector. At the moment, IHIS is developing solutions using IoT solutions, contact tracing, robots for teleprescence, virtual reality, and other such technologies.

“We are continuously looking at leading technologies, that will innovate and transform healthcare in the public sector,” said Mr. Tay, “We work with research partners and industry experts to build solutions that will improve patient care and quality.”

Android Device Contact Tracing is an area which IHIS is working to develop solutions for. Through Contact Tracing, user contact data can be collected based on a pre-set distance and contact duration. This would prove useful during outbreak of certain pandemic.

“We will use this space to test certain apps with certain environments,” Mr. Tay told us, “For example, if they want to test android tablets being used with Google Glass. This would be the innovation space.”

In addition to technology development and testing, IHIS plans to introduce an in-house hackathon so as to encourage staffers to innovate and come up with their own ideas to improve health care through ICT.

“We are going to introduce an in-house hackathon, so as to inspire and bring out the innovators in everybody,” Mr. Tay said, “This will give them a chance to share their ideas and see what others are doing.”

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