Press Releases

Medical technology and workforce transformation identified as key enablers to tackle Singapore’s healthcare challenges at inaugural FutureHealth conference

Nine more partners join Singapore’s first healthcare co-learning network to drive innovation

Singapore, 8 November 2017 - FutureHealth, a three-day conference starting today, will discuss innovations in the healthcare workplace and the latest advances in diagnostics, management and treatment of diseases that have the potential to transform the healthcare industry.

To signal the strong need for innovation in healthcare, Minister for Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, will preside over the inaugural FutureHealth conference themed Innovations Transforming Healthcare.

Jointly organised by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore’s medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), NTU Institute for Health Technologies (HealthTech NTU) and the Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI), the conference is held at LKCMedicine’s newly opened Clinical Sciences Building.

The showcase, which brings together both international and local experts from academia, government, start-ups and other industries including banking, will discuss the challenges and interdependence of transforming the healthcare workforce and medical technology.

LKCMedicine Executive Vice-Dean Professor Lionel Lee, and conference co-chair, said, “FutureHealth aims to challenge our notion of healthcare transformation and inspire participants to seek new opportunities that will benefit Singaporeans and communities around the region. The conference will serve as an excellent platform to learn from industry leaders in and beyond the healthcare sector, who possess diverse knowledge and expertise in identifying and solving the needs and challenges in our healthcare landscape.”

HealthTech NTU Executive Director Professor Russell Gruen said, “Genuine healthcare transformation requires us to harness synergies between new technologies and fresh approaches to organisation and delivery of services. This conference embraces that union, as the key to value-based healthcare.”

Giving an insight on innovations to come, NTU’s semi-autonomous social robot EDGAR-2 will be present at the conference. The university’s EDGAR series of robots are likely technology pioneers that could enable future doctors to reach many more patients via their robotic avatar, or provide tools to comfort patients via human-robot interaction when they feel distressed. Such robots may increase efficiency as well as cost reduction, and potentially improve the quality of patient care.

Healthcare think-tank expands

On the sidelines of the Conference, nine more prominent organisations will commit to be part of a think-tank network to identify and collaborate on solutions to healthcare challenges.

The Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI) Co-Learning Network, established last year with 18 organisations, can soon count on leading industry partners such as Workplace by Facebook, Philips Electronics and NEC Laboratories further their mission of transforming healthcare. These partners, renowned in their specific industries, with their own centres for learning and innovation will offer their wealth of experience, expertise and knowledge in the areas of smart technology, healthcare innovations and data analytics. Their inclusion in the network will enable us to better co-learn and co-create solutions for patients.

CHI Executive Director Mr David Dheverajulu said, “FutureHealth and the Co-Learning Network are pivotal platforms where like-minded organisations from various knowledge industries will help us to learn together and come up with more holistic and robust solutions. Given the challenges associated with an ageing population and workforce, it is no longer business as usual, we need to redesign the way we work, the way we learn and the intentional use of technology to deliver care at a sustainable cost. We also need to establish thought leadership to learn within and outside the healthcare sector to keep our care processes and workforce current and relevant."

An example of the transformative solutions and partnerships CHI Co-Learning Network champions is a collaboration between TTSH and the Nanyang Polytechnic, who teamed up to leverage on each other’s expertise to design a multi-functional chair that will not only aid in rehabilitating patients but also allow caregivers who stay overnight to have conducive rest. The prototype is in the midst of refinement and will soon find its way into healthcare settings.

Workplace by Facebook, an enterprise communications and collaboration platform aimed at facilitating discussions within and across companies and organisations around the world, has had a smooth rollout in Singapore. TTSH was the first hospital globally to adopt Workplace and has seen learning go social and exchange of ideas go mobile and in real time. With such sharing now happening online in a safe and secured way, more healthcare institutions have now adopted Workplace, enabling discussions both within and across organisations.

Ramesh Gopalkrishna Head Asia-Pacific (APAC), Workplace by Facebook said, “We’re excited and looking forward to contribute to the strategic conversations and initiatives that will address healthcare challenges and develop better ways of working.” 

At the conference, Health Minister Gan presented awards to seven healthcare projects from five healthcare institutions under the National Healthcare Innovation & Productivity (HIP) Medals.

Launched in 2016 by the Ministry of Health to foster a more hands-on effort in productivity and innovation, the Medals recognise teams who achieve excellence in three award categories: “Care Redesign”, “Automation, IT and Robotics Innovation”, and “Workforce Transformation”.

Details on the National HIP Medals are attached as Annex A below.

Annex A: Factsheet on National Healthcare Innovation and Productivity Medals 2017

Organised by the Ministry of Health, the annual National Healthcare Innovation and Productivity (HIP) Medals provide an opportunity for Healthcare and Community Care institutions to acknowledge, showcase and celebrate excellence in healthcare innovation and productivity.

The Medals recognise teams who achieved excellence in three award categories:

  • Care Redesign
  • Automation, IT and Robotics Innovation
  • Workforce Transformation

The National HIP Medals are sponsored by the Ng Teng Fong Healthcare Innovation Programme (NTF HIP) managed by the Tan Tock Seng Hospital Community Fund and the Centre for Healthcare Innovation. The NTF HIP aims to drive healthcare innovation to benefit and enhance the health of patients and population through the sponsorship of innovation projects, training and development, and community enabling programmes.

The call for applications took place between 15 May 2017 to 30 June 2017.

Eligibility Criteria

Applications were open to all Singapore-based Healthcare and Community Care providers.

Team-based projects submitted must have demonstrated at least six months of improved productivity through time savings for staff, cost savings, cost avoidance, improved care outcomes, etc.

Project implementation and data collection with analysis must have taken place between 1 January 2015 and 31 March 2017.

Evaluation

40 submissions from over 16 organisations were received. They were assessed by an evaluation committee whose members were:

  • Ms Teoh Zsin Woon (Chair)
    Deputy Secretary (Development), Ministry of Health
  • A/Prof Kenneth Mak
    Deputy Director Medical Services (Health Services Group), Ministry of Health
  • Ms Tan Soh Chin
    Chief Nursing Officer, Ministry of Health
  • Mr Robert Chew
    Chairman, Standards Council, SPRING Singapore
  • Ms Jeanne Liew
    Principal and Chief Executive, Nanyang Polytechnic
  • Mr Ted Tan
    Deputy Chief Executive, SPRING Singapore
  • A/Prof Low Cheng Ooi
    Chief Medical Informatics Officer, Ministry of Health
    Chief Clinical Informatics Officer, Integrated Health Information Systems

The submissions were assessed on the following criteria:

  • Problem definition
  • Project definition and scope
  • Quality of project idea/ concept
  • Innovation
  • Impact
  • Sustainability
  • Learning value
  • Presentation

Seven winning projects were selected – two Best Practice Medals from each category and an overall Excellence Champion Medal. The latter would need to have demonstrated exceptional innovation and productivity in more than one award category.

Name of Institution Project Title  Project Synopsis

National University Health System

NUHS Patient Appointment Consolidation Programme

The National University Health System (NUHS) Regional Health System (RHS) rolled out its Patient Appointment Consolidation (PAC) programme in 2014, to deliver more person-centric and seamless care to patients with multiple chronic diseases.
 

Preliminary analysis of the NUHS PAC programme has shown that patients with multiple chronic conditions enrolled in the PAC programme had 33% fewer visits to Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOC) at the National University Hospital (NUH). For this group of patients, their hospital admissions and length of stay have also dropped by 53% each, and they also saved an estimated average of $492 each per year.

NUHS attributes these positive outcomes to one primary physician model supported by a holistic team-based approach. In this model of care, a primary physician will manage the patient’s various chronic conditions, with inputs from specialists when needed. The programme employs primary care coordinators who assess each patient’s case carefully to determine if the patient’s conditions can be cared for in the community by a family physician from one of NUHS’ primary care partners. Patients with more complex conditions will be cared for by a doctor from NUH one-stop Internal Medicine (IM) clinic. The primary physician is supported by a multi-disciplinary team who coordinates and delivers the care needed by the patient in the hospital, community and home. Patients enjoy the convenience of seeing one primary care physician. This means shorter waiting time and cost savings to patients as the number of appointments for each patient is reduced.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

Integrated Hip Fracture Unit: Better, Smoother, Faster and Safer Care

With the ageing population, hip fractures are an increasing cause for concern in Singapore. Elderly patients who sustain hip fractures have complex surgical, medical and rehabilitation needs, not all of which are met, leading to further complications downstream. The Integrated Hip Fracture Unit (HFU) aims to provide coordinated, trans-disciplinary, patient-centric hip fracture care for this frail and often neglected group of patients.

The team facilitates the preparation of the patient for surgery within 48 hours, which helps to get the patient mobilised and rehabilitated faster, allowing them to be discharged earlier. This is made possible by the coordination between the trans-disciplinary team of geriatricians, orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, case manager, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist and dietitian.

From January 2015 to April 2017, 794 patients were admitted into the Integrated HFU, of which 82% had surgical interventions. The HFU has achieved low 30-day mortality and incidence of medical complications such as urinary tract infection, pneumonia, delirium, deep vein thrombosis, surgical site infection and foot drop. The average length of stay of surgical patients has dropped from 15.2 days in 2015 to 10.6 days in 2017.

The Integrated Hip Fracture Unit is an efficient approach to improve coordination between various disciplines, standardise delivery of care to international standards, and reduce morbidity and mortality with better outcomes and satisfaction for patients and families.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Care Redesign by Engaging Nursing Homes through Value Stream Mapping

The Nursing Home Value Stream Mapping (NH VSM) project started due to the long turnaround time (TAT) for Nursing Home (NH) placement which saw a significant number of medically-fit patients waiting for NH in the acute hospital. The application process was also complicated and tedious.

To tackle this, the NH VSM workgroup was set up comprising representatives from 4 TTSH Departments, the Agency of Integrated Care and Ren Ci Nursing Home, St Theresa’s Home and Thye Hua Kwan Nursing Home.

Three key initiatives were rolled out:
1) A standardised and streamlined workflow for NH applications was co-created with inputs from all the project team members during the future state mapping phase.
2) A standardized set of information required for NH application was formalized and communicated both upstream and downstream of the NH application process.
3) Lastly, the AIC NH Referral Team was relocated to work on-site in TTSH to facilitate the direct processing of NH applications. 

The results achieved were highly encouraging. The TAT for NH applications fell by 70% from Jan 2015 (71 days) to Aug 2017 (21 days). There was also a drop in the number of NH applications requiring re-work from 95% to 2% (data from 1 Jun 16 – 10 Oct 16). This translated to a shorter waiting time for NH placement for patients and a shorter length of stay in the acute hospital, hence faster access to acute care for new emergency cases with higher acuity needs.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital

1-Bill, 1-Queue

The “1-Bill, 1-Queue” project in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) is facilitated by Operations and MEC Masterplan team, in partnership with Pharmacy, Diagnostic Radiology, Specialist Outpatient Clinics, Business Office and IHIS.

The different billing systems of Specialist Outpatient Clinics and Pharmacy led to processes inefficiencies and suboptimal patient experience. There were also human errors from manual processes for billing transactions.

With patient centricity as a key focus to innovate service delivery and reduce redundancies within existing systems and processes, “1-Bill, 1-Queue” is a hospital-wide, large-scale, technically challenging and complicated project marrying both frontline service delivery with backend billing processes. The hospital’s billing and queue processes were reviewed from a system-level thinking mind-set. Outpatient billing process and patient journey were analysed simultaneously to harmonise backend and frontline processes. Value Stream Map tool was used to model current and future state processes, and Design Thinking to re-design 1-Queue. The team referenced from best practices of other institutions, identified system gaps and addressed stakeholders’ concerns with evidenced and tested workarounds.

Every patient coming to TTSH for medication refill now saves 25 minutes. In addition, the project achieved a projected annualized manpower savings of 12.52 headcounts, which in turn translates to $509,391 in manpower savings. There was also a cost avoidance of $200,000 for system upgrade arising from the process redesign.

Singapore General Hospital

Smart Bin: Safer, Reliable and Accurate!

The Outpatient Pharmacy at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Bowyer Block fills about 6,000 prescriptions of over 20,000 drug items per month. With a drug volume this high, the packing process will inevitably be susceptible to human errors such as wrong drug pick. 

 The Smart Bin offers a novel approach to handling high drug volume safely and at the same time, increasing drug picking accuracy and traceability. A simple scan of the barcode on the drug label lights up the LED and unlocks the drug bin, and guides the Pharmacy staff to the correct drug bin, for picking or drug loading and returns.

 Data analysis from Apr 2016 to Nov 2016 showed that the picking accuracy of the system was nearly 100 per cent, eliminating possible near misses due to human error. 

 With the implementation of the Smart Bin, patient safety has been enhanced, in line with our hospital safety goal of “Target Zero Harm”. Pharmacy staff have now be re-deployed to spend more face-to-face time with patients and improve service levels at the Outpatient Pharmacy.  

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

Community & Home Eye Screening Service (CHESS)

Regular mass eye screening at hospitals does not reach out to many patients, especially the elderly, uneducated and frail. CHESS aims to provide an accessible solution for early detection and management of eye conditions in northern Singapore residents.

It is a two-part strategy, with nurse-led First-level Community Eye Screening (FiLCES) at the first level, followed by optometrist-led Second-level Eye Consultation (SeLEC). FiLCES involves torchlight eye screening test and visual acuity testing at home and in community by community nurses. SeLEC involves tele-consultation with accredited optometrists to manage referrals from FilCES at the Wellness Centres. The team then facilitates a hassle-free, coordinated workflow and referral of SeLEC patients to polyclinics for specialist follow up.

From February to September 2017, 1,231 residents were screened. 47.9% were detected to have eye conditions. 41.5% of these cases could be managed by the optometrists. This means that only 8.6% of the total residents screened required specialist referral. CHESS is viable based on a projected screening of 10,000 residents at the nominal fee of $2 for FiLCES and $8 for SeLEC. This comes to 84.1% and 78.4% savings respectively. The manpower savings is $75,000.

CHESS is a feasible & cost-effective eye care model to screen and manage eye conditions in the community. It is sustainable and scalable, and the team is already making plans to integrate CHESS into more community outreach programmes and Wellness Centres.

Institute of Mental Health

Transformation of Financial Assistance Workforce in MSW Department

The Transformation of Financial Assistance Workforce in the Medical Social Work department of IMH sought to provide timely assistance to patients and caregivers by redesigning the job scope of Social Work Assistants (SWAs) for more efficient allocation of manpower, and also greater job satisfaction for staff. 

Financial assistance cases were previously processed and administered by Medical Social Workers (MSWs). The large number of such cases meant that MSW resources were channelled to these, instead of to complex psychosocial cases that required in-depth MSW intervention. 

As 40% of financial assistance cases were identified to be straightforward cases that did not require an MSW to manage, the SWAs underwent training by the MSWs so that they could be empowered to attend to these cases. As part of their upskilling, the SWAs learned to use a social care screening tool to enhance their assessment of patients’ and caregivers’ psychosocial needs, and to highlight potential risk cases to MSWs. This in turn freed up the MSWs to address the 60% of medium and high complex psychosocial cases that required their in-depth intervention.

With the reduction in the financial assistance administration workload, the department has managed to save one MSW full-time equivalent, which has been redeployed to attend to patients and caregivers in more urgent and complex cases seen at IMH’s Emergency Services. 

Annex B: Factsheet on Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI) Co-Learning Network

Hosted by Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and the National HealthCare Group (NHG), the CHI Co–Learning Network comprises 27 partners from diverse yet synergistic expertise. This is an open learning platform which aims to bring together like-minded local and overseas institutions comprising of healthcare agencies, centres of excellence and academia partners to study and co-learn from one another on how to meet current and future challenges through innovation, value and enhanced care delivery. (Refer to last page for the full list of partners).

Expansion of the CHI Co–Learning Network with Industry Knowledge Partners 

These partners, renowned organisations in their specific industries, with their own centres for learning and innovation will offer their wealth of experience, expertise and knowledge in the areas of smart technology, healthcare innovations and data analytics. Their inclusion in the network will be crucial in addressing healthcare’s current and future challenges by allowing us to co-learn and co-create solutions for patients.

List of nine new partners joining the CHI Co-Learning Network 

Industry Knowledge Partners Scope of Collaboration
  1. Workplace by Facebook
  1. Philips Electronics Singapore Pte Ltd
  1. NEC Laboratories Singapore Pte Ltd
  1. PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting (Singapore) Pte. Ltd
  1. Johnson & Johnson Pte Ltd
 
  • Smart technology and Data analytics
  • Co-developing pedagogies to drive healthcare innovation
  • Workforce Training and learning
  • Research
 
International Centres of Innovation Scope of Collaboration
  1. Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (as represented by Haelo), United Kingdom
 
  • Co-developing pedagogies to drive healthcare innovation

  • Knowledge sharing and co-learning opportunities

  • Workforce Training and learning

     
 
  1. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, United Kingdom
 
  • Developing education and training
  • Collaboration through the exchange of information in relation to care delivery, hospital operations and healthcare innovations.
  • Knowledge sharing and learning 
 
  1. South West Academic Health Science Network, United Kingdom
 
  • Co-developing pedagogies to drive healthcare innovation.
  • Knowledge sharing and co-learning opportunities
  • Workforce Training and learning
     
 
Strategic Agencies Scope of Collaboration
  1. SkillsFuture Singapore (as represented by Institute for Adult Learning Singapore)
 
  • Workforce Training and learning
  • Research 
  • Thought leadership in healthcare innovation and workforce transformation
 

List of CHI CO-LEARNING PARTNERS

S/N International Centres of Innovation

1.

Ko Awatea - Counties Manukau District Health Board, New Zealand

2.

Routine to Research (R2R) Unit, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Thailand

3.

South West Academic Health Science Network, United Kingdom

4.

Haelo - Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom

5.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, United Kingdom

6.

Qulturum - Region Jönköping County, Sweden

S/N Local Healthcare Clusters (Innovation Centres)

7.

National Healthcare Group (Centre for Healthcare Innovation)

8. 

National University Hospital

9.

Singapore Health Services

S/N Learning Partners

10.

Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

11.

Nanyang Polytechnic

12.

Singapore Institute of Technology

S/N Strategic Agencies

13.

Agency for Integrated Care

14. 

Design Singapore Council

15. 

Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd

16.

Integrated Health Information Systems (iHIS)

17.

MOHH Healthcare Leadership College

18.

SkillsFuture Singapore

19.

SPRING Singapore

20.

Singapore Stanford Bio design

21.

Tsao Foundation     

22.

Workforce Singapore

S/N Industry Knowledge Partners

23.

Johnson & Johnson

24.

NEC Asia Pacific

25.

Philips Singapore

26.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting Singapore

27.

Workplace by Facebook