It takes a multi-disciplinary team of passionate innovators to propel healthcare transformation forward in Singapore.
Medical technology (medtech) innovation is a new and vibrant sector of clinical research which brings an idea from conceptualisation to patent, and ultimately to clinical application. As a passionate medical device innovator, seeing innovations being adopted in clinical practice is a success to me.
The SingHealth Medical Technological Office (MTO) was set up to provide shared resources and seed medtech innovations and developments in the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC. Over the years, we have seen many talented clinicians step forward as innovators.
Building a culture of innovation
A culture of innovation encourages exploration and experimentation. TIC is a one-stop resource centre for external partners and clinical experts to convene, co-develop and test highly impactful healthcare innovations. At TIC, we have dedicated spaces for innovation activities including living lab mock-ups, innovation playpens for our young innovators to explore their creativity and test out new innovations safely. There will also be a germination greenhouse to grow our early projects. Start-ups will also able to run their pilots and implementation trials at TIC.
We are actively reaching out to partner different industries and collaborators such as the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, and to showcase their works in innovation. These collaborations allow for the exchange of healthcare expertise and assets, domain knowledge and networks.
TIC also aims to empower and equip healthcare innovators with toolkits by giving them access to innovation spaces, development resources and assets, and professional services developed for innovators. Digital sandboxes offer a safe space for innovators to immerse themselves in a conducive environment to test their systems, devices, rehabilitation equipment and innovative ideas from trial to implementation. This provides a holistic experience of clinical adoption without impediment to the healthcare system.
Developing practical tools to cope with the pandemic
It is essential to translate the innovative know-how into practical and applicable use for all. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Swab Assurance For Everyone (SG SAFE) and SG SHIELD were developed to keep healthcare workers safe when administering COVID-19 swab tests. For SG SAFE, the healthcare worker wears just an N95 mask and steps into the U-shaped transparent booth. He then sticks his hands into a pair of biosafety level three gloves built into the panel to take swabs from the patient who is standing or seated on the other side. The booth is then disinfected, and ready for the next patient. The entire process takes about two-and-a-half minutes, compared to a swab that used to take five minutes. The SG SHIELD, made of polycarbonate, blocks the healthcare workers from droplet deposition that patients may cough out during throat swabs. The SG SHIELD comes with slots for a tongue depressor and swab stick. It is lightweight, easy to handle and can be readily assembled by the patient’s bedside.
SG-Inspire, a locally-designed ventilator was developed for patients requiring breathing support due to COVID-19 infections and to supplement the supply of ventilators in Singapore. With a user-friendly interface and the use of built-in sensors and control software, SG-Inspire uses ambient air with the option of low-pressure medical oxygen. This is applicable to situations in which high-pressure medical oxygen may not be easily available. As SG-Inspire can be operated remotely, this reduces the need for healthcare professionals to enter a patient’s room and mitigating risks of viral transmission....
Building an ecosystem of talents
With an ecosystem of talents interested in innovation, we have received accolades for several innovative projects over the years including the development of iSR’obot™ Mona Lisa by Singapore. Detection of prostate cancer has evolved from blind systematic transrectal biopsies to MRI lesion directed transperineal biopsy including robotic approach of iSR’obot™ Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa system was conceptualised and engineered to position biopsy or treatment needles transperineally. The advantages of transperineal procedures are lower infection rates and better coverage of the anterior zone compared to transrectal procedures.
The SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC aims to be the pinnacle of innovation and a conduit for collaborative partnerships. We need a team of people with different skills sets ranging from the use of technology, identification of the patterns around the technology, funding and implementation to take leadership at the different stages of any innovation journey. Everyone has a role to play in innovation.