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Clinical Care & Innovation – the past, present and future (Part 2)

We have overcome many tests of resilience and taken strides to become a world-class healthcare system. What are we doing to enhance patient care now, and what else is in store for us? 

Defining Tomorrow’s Medicine

In our relentless pursuit to define Tomorrow’s Medicine, we have and continue to take great strides in enhancing the care journey for our patients through new models of care, innovations, infrastructure and more.

Innovating to Advance

The digital age has brought with it many opportunities for enhanced patient care. From leveraging Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technology, to the formation of new SingHealth Duke-NUS Disease Centres (SDDCs) to offer our patients multi-disciplinary care, our Academic Medical Centre (AMC) stands committed in transforming healthcare outcomes for our patients and remain on the cutting edge of patient care.

Pandemic Response

With the arrival of COVID-19 to our shores and the implementation of its accompanying safe management measures, the power of technology has never been more critical. In the past 22 months, SingHealth institutions have come together to design, build and deploy smart solutions to address challenges brought about by the pandemic. Here are some examples:

SwabBot is a first-of-its-kind fully patient-controlled nasal swab robot. Faster and more comfortable than a manual swab test, SwabBot also reduces swabbers’ risk of exposure to COVID-19 and standardises the swab technique for a consistent swab done on every patient.

The SwabBot (above) is a fully patient-controlled nasal swab robot.

Temi, a remote-controlled robot, was deployed at the SingHealth-managed Singapore Expo Community Care Facility and at SingHealth Community Hospitals (SCH). Designed to conduct teleconsultations to minimise face-to-face interactions between patients and healthcare workers, its functions were augmented to delivering medications, assisting social workers in tele-counselling and even serving as “wellness instructor” in wards, where patients could follow videos of exercise or dance routines.

A patient receiving teleconsultation via Temi at the Singapore Expo CCF.

With respiratory failure being one of the most severe complications of COVID-19, the need to address a potential lack of life-saving ventilators had to be addressed. SG-Inspire is a ventilator prototype developed to support COVID-19 patients requiring breathing support, and to supplement the supply of ventilators in Singapore, should the need arise. It also costs five times less than that of conventional ventilators and uses readily available components, which allows flexibility for potential mass production, without any component supply issues.

Photo: The Straits Times

SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medicine Innovation Institute (AMII)

The newly-established AMII seeks to create conditions to better support healthcare innovation, and to foster a culture of innovation and experimentation across the AMC, supported by research and education efforts. In doing so, the Institute hopes to advance healthcare and continually improve patient care. With a burgeoning interest in innovation from teams and staff across the AMC, the AMII will play a key role in supporting and advising innovators to close gaps or solve problems faced on the ground, and propel innovation efforts forward to further discover, develop and enhance patient care. Interested to find out more about the AMII? Click here!

SingHealth Duke-NUS Disease Centres (SDDCs)

The SDDCs bring together specialist expertise from across our cluster to offer our patients integrated and multi-disciplinary care, enhanced through research and education collaborations. Four new SDDCs have been established in the past year, bringing the total number of SDDCs to 13:

  • The SingHealth Duke-NUS Cell Therapy Centre will focus on bolstering current translational research in cell therapy and explore cellular-based therapies in patients.
  • The SingHealth Duke-NUS Memory and Cognitive Disorder Centre aims to improve dementia research, education and support for patients and caregivers at all stages of the disease.
  • The SingHealth Duke-NUS Supportive and Palliative Care Centre is dedicated to improving the quality of supportive and palliative care through close collaborations with community partners to achieve a more seamless continuum of care for patients.

The SingHealth Duke-NUS Vascular Diseases Centre will leverage clinical expertise from specialists across our cluster to address the growing demand and complexity of care in vascular diseases.

Bringing Care to Our Patients

In keeping with our common purpose of putting patients at the heart of all we do, SingHealth is on the constant pursuit to improve care delivery and develop new models of care to cater to the evolving healthcare needs of Singaporeans.

The Future Outpatient Journey (FOJ), for example, is a cluster-wide initiative that aims to transform the outpatient experience by redesigning processes and leveraging digital technologies. By empowering patients to be active partners in their own care, the patient experience can be made more seamless.


Amidst COVID-19 and the need for safe distancing, teams across SingHealth worked to convert in-person visits to teleconsultations, without compromising the quality of care delivered. Doing so not only effectively reduced the risks of overcrowding and unnecessary in-person interactions on hospital campuses, it also provided continuity of care that patients are familiar with, in the comfort of their homes.

Dr Goh Su-Yen, Clinical Director, Future Health Systems, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), one of the Institution Project Leads driving telehealth adoption in SGH.

There is a broad vision for telemedicine across SingHealth, going beyond just teleconsultations to remote monitoring, tele-rehabilitation and enhancing interactions between patients and providers, as well as between healthcare staff across all settings. In public healthcare, the number of clinical services and programmes offering teleconsultations has increased tenfold in the past two years, with 45% residing in SingHealth and benefitting almost 20,000 patients!

SingHealth Regional Health System (RHS)

The RHS recognises that our population can be empowered to keep well, get well and age well in their communities and homes. Aside from their communities, patients’ families and workplaces also have an impact on their health. By looking at our patients’ health holistically, the RHS is able to better explore how to move care from inside to outside the four walls of medical institutions. To achieve this, we work closely with our network of partners across health and social care sectors to identify population health needs, promote behavioural change and develop sustainable programmes to provide a seamless continuum of care. With the adoption of enhanced care processes, mobile applications, social prescribing, community nursing and more, patients are more empowered to take charge of their health and well-being near or in their homes.

While the lifespan of Singaporeans is among the highest in the world, healthspan has not yet caught up. Many spend the last decade of their lives in ill health, which is taxing on their loved ones, community and the wider healthcare system. The role of RHS in closing this gap is indeed a critical one.

Building for Tomorrow’s Medicine

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong snapping a picture of the Campus Master Plan at its unveiling, with then Health Minister Mr Gan Kim Yong and then Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor. Photo: The Straits Times

The Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Campus Master Plan was unveiled by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2016, marking the start of the first of two phases of major developments to the Campus in the coming years, to enhance facilities and increase capacity for Singapore’s growing healthcare needs. When completed, the SGH Campus will be Singapore’s largest medical campus, providing patients with healthcare that is easily accessible, integrated with and boosted by cutting-edge research and education, which will translate to better health outcomes for our patients.

Since then, the Outram Community Hospital (OCH) has started operations, and the construction of the new Emergency Medicine building, the SGH Elective Care Centre, and new NCCS and NDCS buildings are underway.

Phase Two of the Master Plan will include the development of a new SGH Complex, which will be re-located to be nearer to Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations for increased convenience for patients and their visitors. It will also include a research park for our research partners, and an education zone in close proximity to Duke-NUS Medical School. Altogether, the Campus is projected to meet 40 per cent of Singapore’s healthcare education needs.

In 2020, MOH also announced the building of a new integrated hospital in the eastern region that will help to manage the patient load at CGH. In addition to the newly launched Tampines Polyclinic, we look forward to three new polyclinics in Eunos, Tampines North and Kaki Bukit, in the years to come.

The Road Ahead

As we continue to work towards addressing new challenges in innovative ways amidst an ever-changing healthcare landscape, we remain committed to putting our patients first, and ensuring the care we provide them with is the safest and most efficient possible.