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SingHealth Develops Technology to Empower Healthcare Professionals

SingHealth is Singapore’s largest public healthcare cluster with 30,000 staff across our network of acute hospitals, national speciality centres, polyclinics and community hospitals. Technology is a critical enabler in developing cutting-edge innovations that solve problems in healthcare. Some of the most impactful innovations are those where SingHealth fundamentally redesigns work processes, train its people to be ready for new workflows, and undergird this with new technology that acts as a force multiplier for its busy healthcare professionals.

The SingHealth Office for Service Transformation and SingHealth Artificial Intelligence (AI) Programme, supported by the National Medical Research Council and Integrated Health Information Systems, partnered with A*STAR to develop a multi-lingual messaging bot called Doctor COVID in 2020. The bot helped SingHealth to engage and care for thousands of migrant workers with COVID-19 at the SingHealth-managed community care facilities at the height of the pandemic last year.

Migrant workers are able to understand the critical information and content that Doctor COVID broadcasted in different languages. It also had self-reporting questionnaires to monitor the migrant workers’ clinical risk factors and mental wellbeing. SingHealth then partnered with the Singapore General Hospital to further develop Doctor COVID. The development has allowed the nurses to monitor and communicate with higher-risk Covid-19 patients who were discharged from the hospital for home recovery.

The bot frees up nurses from having to make repeated phone calls to check for patients’ vital signs by sending automated reminders to patients directly. Moreover, if patients’ vital signs cross a certain threshold, the bot will alert the nurses through a dashboard.

The bot can also send multilingual videos and other messages as patient education to keep an eye on patients’ wellbeing. This is a good example of a new workflow that was jointly developed by nurses, doctors, and process redesigners, enabled by robust technology, technical experts, and IT colleagues. Most importantly, the technology was tested on the ground and refined with feedback from patients and staff.

Another impactful tech project from SingHealth is SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medicine Innovation Institute (AMII). AMII brings together the various innovation programmes and innovation offices across the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre, to jointly map out our innovation strategy and better support our innovators.

I co-chair AMII together with my counterpart from Duke-NUS, and am thrilled about the network of innovation leaders who are leading several exciting initiatives and priority areas as part of AMII. For instance, one priority area is looking at how we can push forward meaningful adoption and scaling of successful innovations. We also set up a joint SingHealth Duke-NUS unit for impact assessment, which evaluates innovations for their impact and potential benefit, and guides funding and scaling of these innovations.

– Lee Chen Ee, Group Director, Innovation and Transformation, SingHealth

What many people expected when COVID-19 struck was that innovation would dry up as healthcare professionals would hunker down to only look at business-as-usual work. But we saw the opposite in SingHealth.

In the past 2 years, SingHealth has experienced a 400 per cent jump in the number of applications for internal innovation seed grants, and tremendous interest in innovation. Our innovation seminars, such as the webinars on Artificial Intelligence (AI), also saw a high participation rate from staff as compared to before the pandemic.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, SingHealth and SGInnovate announced a three-year partnership to build and scale up health science innovations today, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare as the first area of focus. The partnership seeks to advance the development and adoption of AI as well as other emerging technologies to improve diagnostics and treatment, and enhance healthcare delivery and clinical outcomes for Singapore and beyond. Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Health, witnessed the inking of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by both parties today.

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