SINGAPORE – By 2021, every citizen will have access to their health records, either on their mobile devices or computers, when the country’s Health IT Master Plan is completed.
These records will also make it easy for any doctor they see to know the patient’s medical history and treatments. This should prevent adverse drug interactions.
These plans are moving along and Singapore is on track to having one of the most IT-enabled healthcare systems in the world, which would make healthcare here better, faster, cheaper and more convenient than it is today.
This is according to Mr Bruce Liang, chief executive officer of iHis, the IT company wholly owned by Ministry of Health Holdings that is developing the Health IT Master Plan. He was speaking to journalists in a briefing on Monday (May 29).
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By 2021, when the Health IT Master Plan is completed, patients, doctors and healthcare providers will all be hooked up in a vast electronic database.
The Ministry of Health previously said that giving patients access to their health records will allow them to better understand and manage their health.
With the database, conditions of patients with complex chronic ailments can be easily monitored in their homes, and if intervention is needed, this can be quickly provided so the patient does not end up in hospital.
Patients who need a nurse to visit them at home to help, for example, to change a catheter or wound dressing, will be able to get one through a mobile app.
When there are changes in healthcare subsidies – for example, the government subsidy given during the bad haze days in 2015 – general practitioners (GPs) should have the system in their clinic to tap on the subsidies immediately.
Some of these enablers are already available. For example, in April, iHis launched a programme to identify patients at high risk of being readmitted into hospital.
These patients are given better post-hospital support to prevent their conditions from deteriorating. The programme has already identified 2,500 patients who need the extra care.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong expects as many as 19,000 patients to benefit from the scheme this financial year.
iHis’ Mr Liang said the programme has a 70 per cent precision, which is among the best in the world.
The National Electronic Health Records (NEHR), in which a person’s medical records is shared among all public health institutions, as well as some private ones like community hospitals, is already available.
However, it is not yet comprehensive as it lacks the majority of data from the private healthcare sector.
Once completed, however, the NEHR will make it easy for patients to move from primary to tertiary care throughout the country, both in the public and private sectors, as any doctor treating the patient would have full access to his medical records.
With a large database, the system will also be able to pick out treatments that work better. Such information can be shared to provide better quality care.
Frail patients who need nursing care can, in the future, use their mobile phone app to “order” a nurse for a house visit, get a medical escort or healthcare supplies like diapers, or even meals and personal care such as having a haircut at home.
Mr Liang also assured that the system has many layers of security to ensure that it cannot be hacked into, so confidentiality will not be an issue.