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Singapore: Digital Innovation Advancing Healthcare

The development of telehealth has revolutionised the healthcare system by facilitating the remote delivery of medical services and expanding access to care. In Singapore, telehealth has received a great deal of attention and recognition as a vital instrument for enhancing community care services.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been actively supporting and implementing telehealth initiatives, recognising the need for additional resources and efforts to make these changes a reality.

Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Health, stated at the AIC’s Community Care Work Plan Seminar that recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals is one of the greatest challenges facing the community care sector.

“The high-touch nature of the sector limits the extent to which digitalisation and productivity improvements can address the increasing demand,” Minister Ong said. To address this concern, the MOH is committed to providing funding support through the community care salary enhancement exercise, thereby ensuring that healthcare professionals receive competitive salaries.

Additionally, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) is actively engaged in sectoral job redesign initiatives, transforming the workforce through improved task allocation, and increasing manpower across support care, nursing, and therapy.

Consistency of financial support is crucial in attaining care coordination across settings. To facilitate seamless access to healthcare financing, two initiatives have been implemented. Subvented home medical and nursing providers will be able to submit MediSave claims for homebound patients eligible for subsidies but unable to visit polyclinics or hospitals due to limited mobility beginning on 1 October 2023.

This modification allows patients to access MediSave for home medical and nursing care. In addition, the financial support for telehealth services will be gradually increased. From 1 July 2023, subsidies and MediSave will be available for teleconsultations for chronic disease management.

The community care sector requires additional resources to address diverse requirements, including recruitment of personnel, expansion of the work scope, promotion of volunteerism, and integrated services.

Additionally, the advent of digitalisation has made it possible to build the infrastructure and obtain the resources required for the successful implementation of telehealth.

It also provides the infrastructure and technologies essential for effective telehealth adoption; and assists healthcare practitioners in providing remote therapy, reaching patients in remote locations, and improving access to healthcare services while maintaining patient privacy and security.

For seamless communication between healthcare providers and patients, robust and dependable digital infrastructure, such as high-speed internet connectivity and mobile networks, is required. These digital networks’ availability enables real-time audio and video consultations, data interchange, and remote monitoring.

Likewise, digitalisation allows for the production and maintenance of electronic health records (EHR), which hold medical information about patients in a digital format. EHRs make it easier for healthcare practitioners to share medical history, test results, and other relevant data, providing continuity of treatment in telehealth settings.

Wearable sensors, remote monitoring equipment, and home monitoring kits collect and send health data from patients to healthcare providers. This data digitisation enables healthcare providers to remotely monitor patients’ vital signs, track symptoms, and spot potential health risks.

Telehealth-specific digital platforms and applications provide secure and convenient communication between healthcare providers and patients. Video consultations, chat systems, appointment scheduling, and connectivity with EHR systems are common elements of these platforms.

Further, the importance of data security and patient privacy in telehealth is highlighted by digitalisation. To protect patient information in telehealth transactions, robust cybersecurity safeguards, encryption procedures, and adherence to data protection rules are required.


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