SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has said creating the central medical record system for patients is just the first step towards achieving better care for patients.
He said what is needed is to find ways to use the information in a meaningful way to prevent the patients’ medical conditions from getting worse.
Mr Gan was commenting on the National Electronics Health Record, which will be fully rolled out in 2015. It will pool information for every patient — which will be shared among private and public healthcare services.
Mr Gan was speaking at a healthcare informatics conference on Tuesday.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Asia—Pacific conference drew representatives from more than 60 companies and government agencies.
Sensors placed on various parts of a patient’s body and a wireless platform is all it takes for patients’ medical conditions to be monitored by their doctors anywhere.
A*STAR’s wireless body—sensor network, which took some two years to develop, will be able to monitor a patient’s heart rate and even measure his muscle strain. Doctors can also spot worrying changes and deal with them as soon as they arise.
Mr Leni Chan, Manager of Science and Engineering, Commercialisation Division, A*STAR, said: "This is cost effective for both patients and doctors because patients no longer have to go down to the clinic and the doctor is able to access the data at home and the clinic itself, and it’s 24—hour monitoring. So doctors can have more information and pick up things that they normally don’t pick up just being at the clinic."
Mr Chan added that this technology overcomes current challenges faced by most products on the market such as blockage in data transmission which can result in loss of critical data and high energy consumption. Clinical trials for the body sensor are expected to begin at some local hospitals next year.
Depending on the patients’ needs, they can choose various sensors to test for different conditions. For example, if a patient wants to measure his stress level, he can choose the GSR sensor. The results are then fed back to the doctor and he would then know the appropriate treatment to give to the patient.
Mr Gan said it’s key to re—examine how healthcare services are delivered with our evolving healthcare landscape.
Mr Gan said: "In the past, when the population was younger, our healthcare system was focused mainly on acute hospitals because diseases were more episodic in nature. With the population ageing rapidly, prevalence of chronic diseases is likely to rise. Effective chronic disease management is increasingly important and will require new models of care, especially within the community to meet the challenges ahead."
He said it’s important for healthcare practioners and IT providers to work closely together to improve care for patients.
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