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Singapore Innovating Healthcare: Local Expertise for Global Impact

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In his compelling keynote speech titled “Thinking Local to Go Global – Creativity in Patient Care, Education, and Research” at the 25th Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Annual Scientific Meeting held at Academia, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Health highlighted the critical role of technology innovation in shaping the future of healthcare, both locally and globally.

At the heart of the address was the theme of leveraging local expertise and creativity to address global healthcare challenges. The necessity of paying attention to the details and nuances of Singapore’s healthcare landscape while drawing lessons from other healthcare systems worldwide is vital to future success. There are three key areas where innovation is essential for advancing patient care, education and research.

Dr Puthucheary highlighted the transformative impact of technology on healthcare delivery,  noting that advancements in technology have revolutionised care delivery by addressing the challenges posed by an ageing population and a shrinking healthcare workforce. The integration of digital technologies has enabled healthcare providers to meet the evolving needs of patients while ensuring accessibility, affordability, and sustainability.

Artificial intelligence has emerged as a catalyst for technological innovation in healthcare with the potential to enhance diagnostic accuracy, efficiency and timeliness. Examples of AI applications in medical imaging include the AI Medical Imaging Platform for Singapore Public Healthcare (AimSG), developed in collaboration with Synapxe and SingHealth. AimSG facilitates the adoption of AI in diagnostic imaging, leading to more precise diagnoses and improved patient outcomes.

The role of AI in pathology, where deep learning algorithms complement traditional diagnostic methods, is vital. The collaboration between SGH’s Department of Anatomical Pathology and AI Singapore aims to develop algorithms that assist pathologists in distinguishing breast tumours with similar features. This collaboration enhances diagnostic accuracy, saves time, and improves patient care.

Dr Puthucheary also emphasised the importance of establishing guidelines for the safe adoption of AI in healthcare. He highlighted the joint efforts of the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), and Synapxe in developing the AI in Healthcare Guidelines. These guidelines aim to ensure the safe provision of AI services and build trust in the efficacy of AI-based healthcare innovations.

In addition to technological innovations, Dr Puthucheary discussed the importance of new care models in promoting a sustainable healthcare system. He introduced initiatives like Healthier SG and Age Well SG, which prioritise preventive care and support for chronic conditions. These initiatives aim to empower individuals to take charge of their health and foster healthier lifestyles, thereby reducing the burden on acute care services.

Dr Puthucheary highlighted the success of Healthier SG in encouraging Singaporeans to enrol with family doctors of their choice and develop personal health plans. He also introduced the Healthier SG Chronic Tier subsidy, which increases the affordability of medications for chronic conditions. These initiatives represent a paradigm shift towards proactive, preventive healthcare and community-based support for seniors.

The importance of collaboration with community partners in delivering integrated care is essential to good outcomes and is epitomised by successful partnerships between healthcare institutions and community organisations like Montfort Care, St Luke’s Elder Care, and Thye Hua Kwan Hospital. These collaborations enable place-based integrated care and early intervention for vulnerable residents, fostering trust and improving patient outcomes.

The transformative power of innovation in healthcare cannot be overstated in the digital era. By leveraging technology, implementing new care models, and fostering collaboration with community partners, Singapore is poised to address current healthcare challenges and shape the future of healthcare delivery.


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