Ms Ai Ling Sim-Devadas and Mr Chew Kim Soon, Organising Co-Chairs of the Singapore Patient Advocate Connection 2022
Ms Josie Liow, Co-Chair of the SingHealth Patient Advocacy Network
CEOs and Healthcare Leaders
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good morning. I am so delighted to be here with you today. This is a very meaningful event. It is the inaugural Singapore Patient Advocate Connection 2022, organised by the first patient advocacy group in Singapore – SingHealth Patient Advocacy Network (SPAN).
2. I would like to thank the patient advocates who are here today. You show us the important role patients and caregivers play in partnering care teams to enhance care outcomes. You help build a strong and supportive healthcare system that is shaped by patients, for patients.
3. Studies have shown that patients and families who are well-engaged in their healthcare journey, when compared to those who are not, experience improved health outcomes. Engaged patients are more likely to experience better clinical outcomes, engage in more preventive health behaviours, and more likely to avoid unhealthy behaviours.
Amplifying the patient’s voice to improve the design and delivery of health services
4. SPAN is a meaningful initiative that connects patient and caregiver advocates to healthcare teams, and empowers patients and caregivers to play active roles in improving the patient experience. Through SPAN, patient advocates have a platform to share their first-hand patient or caregiving experience and perspectives with healthcare professionals. Such sharing provides invaluable insight from the patient’s viewpoint, and can guide initiatives and changes in the design and delivery of health services to be more patient-centric.
5. Since its inception in 2017, SPAN advocates have worked with SingHealth and other healthcare stakeholders in more than 100 projects, that Kim Soon mentioned earlier, to improve patient care and patient empowerment. For example, SPAN worked with SingHealth healthcare teams to remove medical jargon in their communication with patients and caregivers, and developed the Plain English Glossary which explains commonly used medical terms in simple, layman language, so that patients and caregivers can understand their treatment plans. We shouldn’t think that these are just small things. These are actually very important things. Because when you are actually facing very difficult times, things like these make a difference to the experience. In addition, the Consumer Education and Engagement team at the Ministry of Health’s Agency for Care Effectiveness also gathered insights from SPAN advocates on their use of healthcare services and technologies, which enabled reviews on health technologies to be more holistic.
6. These efforts reap significant and tangible benefits for the design and delivery of our health services. When patients and caregivers proactively engage in the continuing conversations on healthcare transformation, they can shed light on issues that healthcare professionals may not know patients face, provide a different perspective which can result in more holistic solutions, and widen the array of options for improvements and change.
Rallying support for our healthcare professionals
7. Beyond amplifying the patient’s voice to improve the design and delivery of health services, SPAN collaborated with other patient organisations, such as the Brain Tumour Society Singapore and the Rotary Club of Singapore, to lend support for healthcare workers facing abuse at work. Together with the Singapore Kindness Movement and Be Kind SG, a #BeKind social media movement was started to build awareness of the challenges healthcare workers face, and encourage the public to speak up for healthcare staff who face abuse at work. We are heartened that patient advocates are rallying support for our healthcare professionals, which will encourage our healthcare professionals to continue their good work in the healthcare sector.
Engaging patients and families to build a healthier population
8. Healthcare literacy has increased over time and patients are more empowered today. We should encourage them to take charge of their health.
9. The Ministry of Health’s Healthier SG will further empower residents to take charge of their health – with a trusted family doctor, enable them to take steps to improve and manage their health proactively through using HealthHub and Healthy 365, and activate community partners to support the residents’ needs and help them lead healthier lives. Healthier SG represents a refreshed relationship between the Government, our community, and the people. And really, SPAN is a manifestation of this effort of building the healthcare services together. With Healthier SG, there is going to be a multi-year transformation of our healthcare system, and everyone has a part to play. The Government will do our part, and the healthcare providers and the community must also support residents to choose health. But individuals – each of us here today – hold the greatest responsibility and power to act in our own health journey. We must take charge of our health, adopt healthier behaviours, stay active, and build relationships of trust with our family doctors.
10. In closing, I want to applaud all of you – whether you are a patient advocate, a member of a patient support group or patient organisation, a caregiver, a family member of someone with a health condition or a healthcare professional. Thank you for your efforts in amplifying the voices of patients, families, and caregivers in our ecosystem. I have the great honour and privilege to also to experience this myself, as a caregiver. I can truly resonate with what Kim Soon and Josie shared earlier. I see the value and the power that this can bring to the community. I am so grateful for your presence here today. I think with all of your effort in amplifying the voices in providing feedback, we will make for a better healthcare service. With healthcare teams looking to improve patient safety and experience, I urge you to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to listen and tap on the richness of the patient’s voice.
11. I am glad that today, we are given a platform to make meaningful connections. I am confident that there will be a fruitful exchange of ideas, some of which will be further developed into effective healthcare solutions or quality improvement projects that will enhance patient-centred care. I wish of all of you a successful event with a stimulating sharing of ideas and perspectives.
12. Thank you and have a “SPANtastic” day!