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National pilot of Smart Health TeleRehab in Singapore for remote access to rehabilitation services

Image from Smart Health TeleRehab infographic

The Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), the technology agency for Singapore healthcare, is rolling out a national pilot for Smart Health TeleRehab (SHTR), so that patients who need rehabilitation therapy services can undergo their rehabilitation exercises at a time and location of their choice.

This is the second of three telehealth solutions to be launched during 2017 to support the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) shift to bring care beyond the hospitals to the community. The implementation of a Smart Health Video Consultation system was announced in April, while Vital Signs Monitoring will be introduced later in 2017.

The easy to set up system is expected to lead to greater convenience for patients and increased productivity for therapists and service providers.

The therapist tailors the programme according the patient’s requirements. Customisable features include levels of difficulty, exercise angles, timing of ‘hold’ position for over 40 exercises.

Using wearable sensors (an infographic shared with the press release says that the sensors have 99.98% accuracy) and algorithms, the system detects and measures motor movements. The patients have access to video demonstrations of the exercises, countdown timer for hold positions, repetition counter, a bar to show if the desired angle has been reached and a star indicator to show how accurately the exercise was completed.

Therapists are able to review their patients’ progress asynchronously via smart dashboards. This includes Exercise Charts that reflect patient compliance and performance for quick reviews and Balance Charts for evaluation of standing and seated ability of the patients. This is especially relevant for patients suffering from ailments, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia etc.  

The therapists can provide immediate feedback to patients on whether they are performing the exercises correctly. SHTR provides a video conferencing feature to enable patients to consult therapists remotely.

The application interface is available in five languages, English, Mandarin, Bahasa Melayu, Tamil and Tagalog.

Smart Health TeleRehab would be suitable for patients recovering from conditions such as strokes, fractures, lower limb joint replacements or amputations, deconditioning and musculoskeletal conditions. Doctors, therapists or the care team will assess the suitability of patients for SHTR. SHTR was developed by IHiS together with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, It will be rolled out as a national pilot by IHiS and T-Rehab, a startup by NUS. A patent application has been filed.

The solution has been implemented at NTUC Health and TOUCH Home Care till now. By the end of 2017, it will be available to suitable patients and clients of Alexandra Hospital, Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital, Changi General Hospital, Home Nursing Foundation, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, National University Hospital, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, Ren Ci Hospital, SPD (formerly known as Society for the Physically Disabled),Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Yishun Community Hospital.

A time and motion study conducted by IHiS and NUS in 2015 showed that the solution led to productivity gains of more than 30%. More data on the system’s effectiveness and productivity gains for different patient conditions, patient profiles and therapy treatments will be captured during the national pilot. 

Following a visit to the home of a patient on 5 May 2017 to view how the solution was deployed, Mr. Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Health, said that Smart Health TeleRehab could transform how therapy services are delivered in Singapore.

Mr. Bruce Liang, Chief Executive Officer of IHiS and Chief Information Officer at Ministry of Health (MOH), shared: “IHiS is pleased to be able to work with the university researchers, and local start-up T- Rehab on this initiative. We look forward to more of such collaborations, where we can work with partners to trial promising innovative ideas, and bring them from concept to mainstream deployment at a national level to address Singapore’s healthcare challenges.”

Read the press release here.

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