Healthcare Consultations Move Online
Healthcare Consultations Move Online in Singapore’s First National Implementation of Smart Health Video Consultation for Healthcare
12 Apr 2017
Patients can soon consult healthcare professionals online from wherever they are, as part of Singapore’s first national implementation of Smart Health Video Consultation (VC) for healthcare. Announced this morning by Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) - the technology agency for Singapore healthcare, the Smart Health initiative has been implemented for selected services at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), Institute of Mental Health, Singapore General Hospital, and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The platform will also be made available at National University Hospital and National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) in mid-2017.
Smart Health Video Consultation is part of our Smart Nation initiative, to utilise the power of technology and networks to enhance patient access to healthcare and boost productivity in our healthcare systems. Smart Health Video Consultation will be used in areas such as follow-up services for paediatric eczema pharmacy consultation, paediatric home care services, lactation consultation, and speech therapy for KKH patients; post-stroke, communicable disease, cancer patient care, and more at other institutions. These services are guided by the National Telemedicine Guidelines to ensure patient safety and confidentiality.
On the benefits of this initiative, Bruce Liang, Chief Executive Officer of IHiS and Chief Information Officer of Ministry of Health (MOH), shared: “This is the first of three telehealth solutions we are rolling out across the island to support MOH’s shift to bring care beyond our hospitals to the community. Traditionally, video consultation is used overseas to overcome large geographical distances between patients and healthcare providers. Even though this is less of an issue in Singapore, we see telehealth technologies as an opportunity to better serve our patients, support collaborations between healthcare professionals across locations, and improve overall productivity of our system. For patients with mobility issues or post-discharge patients, this is a boon as it brings care into the home, enables patients to rest at home, and reduces caregiver absence from work. In the event of a pandemic, this solution would help reduce population exposure to communicable diseases. Healthcare professionals can also achieve productivity gains with this Smart Health initiative as time saved from travelling to nursing homes enables them to see more patients, who in turn receive more timely care.”
Highlighting the merits of the new platform, he added: “Previous platforms used were limited by fixed locations, and trade-offs of either high setup costs or poor video quality, making it difficult for healthcare institutions to scale up its use. The new features-rich cloud-based secure system leverages the prevalent use of consumer devices with cameras to enhance access to healthcare services, and is developed as a common platform for high scalability across the health ecosystem with little upfront costs.”
A/Prof. Low Cheng Ooi, Chief Clinical Informatics Officer of IHiS and Chief Medical Informatics Officer at MOH, said: “The new Video Consultation platform was designed for various healthcare uses and settings, with high quality video and audio for more accurate assessment of patients’ conditions, and features such as multi-party video conferencing for consultation with multi-disciplinary care teams, annotation, file sharing and display of medical reports or images for reference during the consultation. This also enables our healthcare teams to monitor patients more regularly than traditional face-to-face appointments. This helps clinicians to deliver better care and health to the population.”
Other functions of the national platform include Video Consultation appointment scheduling, instant messaging, and more. Each private virtual consultation session uses end-to-end encryption and is protected with security measures and proven technologies, such as two-factor authentication. The platform is interoperable and is capable of integrating with national and other IT systems when required for care delivery.
KKH is one of the first to roll out this initiative. Associate Professor Ng Kee Chong, Campus Director, Medical Innovation and Care Transformation, and Chairman, Division of Medicine at KKH said, “Video Consultation is a step further in our initiatives towards making healthcare even more patient-centred and bringing medical support to the doorstep of patients and caregivers. The security features of this new platform afford added assurance, for our patients and us as healthcare providers, that confidentiality of patient information and data is safeguarded. The four services in which we have introduced Video Consultation have seen encouraging take-up rates, and the convenience and user-friendly interface have drawn positive feedback from patients and caregivers.”
Other Smart Health telehealth initiatives that will be rolled out in 2017 to empower patients to self-care and enable ageing-in-place include Tele-rehabilitation and Vital Signs Monitoring. More details of these initiatives will be announced later this year.