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      Good morning everybody. It is always nice to be back and see so many familiar faces. Thank you for inviting me to join you and to speak at this annual Scientific Meeting.

2    The theme for today is “Thinking Local to Go Global: Creativity in Patient Care, Education and Research”. I am going to try to draw out three ideas where we have to solve our challenges, deal with the problems that face our healthcare system and serve the needs of our residents. By paying attention to the details and local research and expertise, perhaps there are lessons to be learned from other healthcare systems around the world.

3    One is technology. Let me start with that. Advancements in technology have revolutionised the way we deliver care. It has enabled us to meet our patients’ changing needs to address challenges posed by a combination of an ageing population and shrinking workforce. We have to continue to find and search for new ways to leverage technologies, explore care models, adapt care models to change, and in so keeping our healthcare accessible, affordable and sustainable.

Leveraging Digital Technologies to Improve Our Healthcare System   

4    Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a buzzword for the past couple of years. This presents possibly a transformative set of new opportunities to leverage digital technologies to provide more accurate, efficient and timely treatment. One such application of AI is in medical imaging, where healthcare professionals can use this as an augmentation, a multiplier of the skill and expertise that you have within the workforce to detect and diagnose conditions with greater precision and to do so earlier.

5    One example of how this has been deployed here is the AI Medical Imaging Platform for Singapore Public Healthcare (AimSG), developed by Synapxe in collaboration with SingHealth. AimSG serves as a platform to facilitate the adoption and integration of AI in diagnostic imaging into existing clinical workflows across our public healthcare institutions here in Singapore. This brings about significant advantages for both healthcare professionals and patients, and it enables more accurate and timely diagnosis, allowing for earlier intervention and improved patient outcomes.

6    The technological advancements in deep learning have brought about a novel synergistic approach with traditional pathology alongside technologies such as AI. This combination allows image-based diagnosis to assist healthcare professionals. An example of this extension of AI is an algorithm developed by SGH’s Department of Anatomical Pathology, in partnership with AI Singapore. This technology effectively works as a “second eye” or a parallel second opinion alongside pathologists to distinguish breast tumours with similar features that require different clinical management. This approach enhances the traditional approach to pathology, providing an additional layer of insight, and again ultimately improving the accuracy and reliability of pathological diagnoses and allow pathologists to serve patients and clinical workflows better, saving time and eliminating diagnostic errors.

7    The rising use of AI in healthcare has necessitated the development and release of the AI in Healthcare Guidelines, encouraging how to adopt AI within the healthcare ecosystem. These have been jointly developed by the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), and Synapxe, our healthcare technology agency, to establish best practices for AI developers and implementers to ensure the safe provision of AI services and to build trust in the dependability and efficacy of AI in healthcare innovation.

8    With all these taken together, we hope that AI can be safely adopted to complement our healthcare workforce, reduce their administrative workload, and enable our frontline healthcare workers to focus on face-to-face conversations and develop stronger therapeutic alliances with their patients, for the benefit of their patients.

New Care Models for a Sustainable Healthcare System 

9    While we have digital technologies as an enabler for healthcare provision, in order to drive the issue of sustainability within our healthcare system, we also have to look at how we organise ourselves, how we right-site care and shift our efforts upstream from acute hospital-based care to primary and preventive care. We have to promote healthier lifestyles choices and empower patients and residents to make informed decisions of their own health.

10    We have introduced Healthier SG. This represents a transformation of our healthcare system. Under this initiative, all stakeholders of healthcare from public hospitals to community partners, will work together to prioritise preventive care in our healthcare model. Individuals will be proactively encouraged to take charge of their health through the adoption of healthier lifestyles, to build healthier relationships with their family doctors and manage their chronic conditions. So far, 750,000 Singaporeans have enrolled with Healthier SG through a family doctor of their choice. About half have started consulting these doctors to develop a personal Health Plan and have started to take active steps to improve their health. Building on the success of this programme, we launched the Healthier SG Chronic Tier subsidy, a framework which increases the affordability of selected medications for chronic conditions such as Diabetes, Hypertension and Hyperlipidaemia.

11    In tandem with the challenges posed by an ageing population, Age Well SG is our latest preventive strategy, specifically focusing on seniors’ unique healthcare needs, and complement the Healthier SG initiative. Through this, we will encourage active ageing through the strengthening of support for seniors with care needs in the community and improve the physical living environment of seniors.

12    We have got technology and the way in which we organise our systems. These are potentially things that as we hopefully improve, get our strategies, programmes and interventions right, there are lessons to be learned, to address every healthcare system’s need for a multi-pronged approach to tackle current disease trends and go upstream to future-proof our healthcare system.

Collaborations with Community Partners

13    Montfort Care, St Luke’s Elder Care and Thye Hua Kwan Hospital. Care teams stationed at various heartland outposts allow for place-based integrated care, supporting residents in the management of chronic diseases within the community, providing timely and appropriate intervention when needed. Through this integrated community care, teams are able to build trust with the residents and provide early support to vulnerable residents.

14    So these are the three sets of strategies and programmes which I hope we can continue to improve on and continue to leverage on our strengths to deliver the best possible care for our patients, clients and residents.

15    Today, we are also launching the SingHealth Duke-NUS Pain Centre – an expansion to the current suite of services, to address care needs of our residents in the community more holistically. This service will be provided by SingHealth cluster hospitals, community outreach teams and polyclinics and run by multi-disciplinary teams with the goal of allowing patients suffering from both acute and chronic pain to receive treatment and care within the community and hopefully avoid unnecessary visits to the hospital. These centres will be broadening their Community Pain Service to educate the public and primary care providers on pain management strategies.


16    I hope that I have illustrated three examples of how we can take the theme of this year’s meeting, “Thinking Local to Go Global: Creativity in Patient Care, Education and Research”, and provided some idea of how we might be able to extract lessons useful to us to build our healthcare system, and potentially useful to people around the world in thinking about how they develop their healthcare system. Embracing the theme, I hope  the audience today – our healthcare professionals, educators and researchers, will continue to contribute not just to the current needs and challenges of our healthcare system, but look beyond our landscape towards innovation and improving our sustainable strategies for healthcare transformation over the years. I wish you all a very fruitful conference.

Thank you. 

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