Local Advisers for Jalan Besar GRC – Senior Minister of State for Defence, Mr Heng Chee How, Ms Denise Phua and Dr Wan Rizal
Mr Tan Tee How
Chairman, National Healthcare Group
Board Members of the National Healthcare Group
Associate Professor Chong Phui-Nah
CEO, National Healthcare Group Polyclinics and Primary Care
Dr Ow Chee Chung
Chief Executive Officer, Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I am happy to join you today for the official opening of the National Healthcare Group’s (NHG) Kallang Polyclinic, which is co-located with Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital (KWSH). This is our 22nd polyclinic and is one of our three newest polyclinics that opened in the past year. With this latest polyclinic, we are another step closer to our target of having 32 polyclinics by 2030.
2. Residents can access a range of services at Kallang Polyclinic. They can seek care for acute conditions and chronic diseases, and receive services such as physiotherapy, scans and blood tests, and get the medications they need. New mothers can also go for regular check-ups and young children can receive their necessary vaccinations.
3. We have been co-locating healthcare facilities in recent years, to make it more convenient for residents to access a large range of healthcare services. This also opens up opportunities for synergies and collaboration. For Kallang Polyclinic, we made a conscious decision to co-locate the polyclinic with KWSH.
4. It means day care clients and their caregivers at the KWSH Senior Care Centre can seek care at the polyclinic conveniently, without having to travel to different locations. Polyclinic patients with high care needs who eventually require nursing home care, can experience a more seamless transition to KWSH if placed there.
5. I thank KWSH for being a reliable and valuable partner of MOH all these years.
Strengthening preventive care
6. Strengthening healthcare capacity is an important part of meeting our healthcare needs in the medium to long term. But with an ageing population and deteriorating health, it is not sustainable to keep expanding healthcare capacity to treat and manage illness. We must work on areas of improvement that maybe less pressing, but more important – which is to make ourselves healthier. That is why we announced the Healthier SG strategy earlier this year.
7. With a new polyclinic, comes new opportunities and ground capabilities and presence, to try out new ways to help residents stay healthy.
8. Kallang Polyclinic has taken steps to empower patients to take ownership of their health. I heard that Kallang Polyclinic has several self-service blood pressure machines, where patients will be able to check their own blood pressure.
9. There is an Edible Garden which grows fresh herbs. Dieticians will use the Garden to share with patients healthier and natural flavouring options. I wonder if patients can fulfil their health and diet prescriptions from the garden.
10. Kallang Polyclinic is the first NHG polyclinic to develop a fully automated vaccine management system. Bearing in mind that patient safety is of utmost importance, nurses can use this machine to cross-check the selected vaccine against an in-built recognition system to ensure that the correct vaccine is picked for the correct patient. The machine can also monitor and report inventory in real time, and keep track of the expiry date of vaccines.
11. The Polyclinic will also be an active adopter of NHGP’s teamlet model. Under this model, patients with chronic conditions are assigned to a regular, multi-disciplinary care team. By having the same care team attend to the same patient, we build trust between the patient and the care team. There is greater continuity of care, patients are more likely to follow up to do their part, resulting in better outcomes, such as having better control of diabetes, fewer referrals to specialists and hospital admissions.
Connecting the Dots
12. My hope for Kallang Polyclinic is that it can play a big role in enhancing the health of the residents around here, through Healthier SG. When we treat severe illness, all the action happens in a hospital. When we build health, all the action happens in the community, across different settings, embedded in the lives and lifestyles of people.
13. So the key success factor to achieve better health, is to be able to connect the dots between community partners and various agencies to support residents and patients. Then, all stakeholders work seamlessly across settings in the community, and appropriate care follows the patient.
14. How do we connect the dots? I think there are several aspects.
15. First is making sure relevant data and information flow, from hospitals to polyclinics to clinics to community health posts. With shared information, seamless care becomes possible. Hence the National Electronic Health Record system is critical.
16. Second is to ensure service providers are operating from a similar playbook. A resident must know that whichever provider they choose to go to, they can receive fairly similar support and help.
17. A good starting point is to develop detailed care protocols for common preventable and chronic conditions. It is not different from during the COVID-19 pandemic, when all doctors share and understand the care protocols for COVID-19 patients. Those common protocols enable hospitals, polyclinics and family physicians to work seamlessly as a wider care team.
18. Third, is to harness best practices and support from each other to continually raise care standards. Within the Primary Care Networks, General Practitioners (GPs) are already learning from one another and sharing resources to offer team-based care.
19. Fourth, is to bring in non-healthcare, community partners. This is so that we can fulfil ‘social prescriptions’. Because to maintain health, you need good daily habits, and not just going to the doctor diligently.
20. Kallang Polyclinic’s RELATE programme is one example of social prescription. RELATE stands for RELationship-based heAlth and social inTEgration, where patients receive additional support and services to address social issues that can affect their health.
21. So a senior may have chronic conditions like poorly controlled diabetes and at the same time is assessed to be at risk of social isolation. His family physician will provide medical care and can refer him to a befrienders programme or join a brisk-walking interest group.
22. The challenge of such programmes is to ensure that the patient will follow up, and the doctor can review their progress months later. To ensure this, Kallang Polyclinic has established platforms where various agencies and partners will come together to share notes and discuss the common care plans of patients with complex social and health issues, to ensure that care is integrated, holistic and seamless. We foresee more of such collaborations under Healthier SG.
23. Finally, we must all share the same mission. That through Healthier SG, we shift the emphasis from sickness care to healthcare. It requires us to change our existing mindset, and the way to care for a patient. If we do it right, within ten years, we can collectively enhance the quality of lives of many people and their families.
24. In closing, I would like to congratulate NHGP on the official opening of Kallang Polyclinic. I am confident you will be a valuable asset in this community, a place to bring health, relief, comfort, friendship and happiness to the residents living around here.