Launch of the Changi General Hospital Technology Month Open House

Ms Yong Ying-I, Deputy Secretary Ministry of Communications & Information Technology Speech - Launch of the Changi General Hospital Technology Month Open House

Ms Yong Ying-I, Deputy Secretary
Ministry of Communications & Information Technology
Speech - Launch of the Changi General Hospital Technology Month Open House
Singapore, 9 September 1999

Mr Liak Teng Lit, CEO, Changi General Hospital,
Students, teachers, grassroots leaders, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning.

1. I am delighted to join you at the launch of Changi General Hospital's Technology Month 1999 open house. CGH's TechMonth open house is a demonstration of the hospital's commitment to educating the community. Over the next 2 days, students, your teachers and parents, as well as members of the public, will get a chance to learn how the hospital is using some of the latest advancements in technology and science to provide quality care to its patients. As a Board member of Changi General Hospital, I am happy that we are able to share this knowledge with the community that we serve.

Exploiting ICT in Healthcare

2. Given my recent assignment as the head of the to-be-created IT & Telecoms Authority of Singapore, I would like to speak today on how information communication technologies are transforming the healthcare industry. Information communication technologies, or ICT for short, arise out of the rapid convergence of information, telecommunications, and broadcasting technologies. We believe that exploiting ICT in every sector and by the society at large will be core to our becoming a knowledge-based economy and an information society.

3. Healthcare is an obvious knowledge-intensive sector, where doctors, nurses, or other paramedical staff, rely on information and knowledge to provide treatment and care. We therefore think that there is tremendous potential for healthcare providers to use ICT innovations to create, use and share medical and healthcare information for treatment and care delivery.

4. Using IT in hospitals is of course not new. Singapore has long used IT to improve internal operational efficiencies and service levels to patients. For example, hospitals have enterprise-wide systems to support patient management, patient accounting, financial management, and material management. They are introducing online ordering of laboratory tests and medication, and online transmission of test results. The National Computer Board (NCB) has initiated several projects supporting information sharing and communication across various healthcare institutions. These include an internet- based system (CARES) that allows GPs or polyclinics to book appointments electronically with Specialist Outpatient Clinics, and an Ambulance Link (HEAL) which transmits patient information from the ambulance to the receiving hospital before the patient arrives.

Healthcare in the New Millennium

5. But it would be fair to say that our largest use of IT to-date has been in back-room administration and data support operation. Going forward, I believe that the larger impact will be in "front-of-house" activities, as IT and communications technologies radically change the way medical professionals work.

6. In Singapore, our high-speed, nationwide IT and communications infrastructure - Singapore ONE - is geared to support rich multimedia transmissions. This opens up new possibilities such as local and regional tele-consultation. Medical data such as X-rays and other medical records can be transmitted electronically from GPs to polyclinics to hospitals to support better patient care. Medical professionals can continually learn and develop through tapping into medical journals, medical knowledge databases and leading-edge practitioner communities worldwide.

7. Singapore has made a start in the area of transmitting Electronic Medical Records. Clinical Support Systems at the Accident & Emergency Departments of public hospitals capture vital patient information and medical records, and make these readily accessible to doctors and specialists at each stage of the patient's treatment within the hospital. Changi General Hospital is one of the early movers in this area. In 1996, the hospital successfully pioneered the A&E Physician Support System and was the first hospital in Singapore to implement such a system. This has allowed A&E doctors to instantaneously record, update, and retrieve any patient's information and generate referral and reply letters to general practitioners automatically. Increasingly, as medical information is being managed more effectively, physicians will be able to better focus on the analytical job areas.

8. I am now happy to learn that CGH, together with its partner, Eutech Cybernetics has built on the A&E system and developed a new enhanced system for the specialist clinics. Eventually, I look forward to seeing seamless interaction between doctors and other healthcare professionals sharing information effectively both within the hospital and with other care providers outside the hospital.

Reaching Out To the Community

9. We at ITTA also see it as a big part of our mission to ensure that IT is accessible to the community at large. Changi General's use of IT to bring its services closer to its customers is a good example in this regard. Our tagline, "Caring for the Community in the East", speaks of our commitment to reach out to our constituents with high quality, comprehensive, and readily available healthcare services. CGH uses ICT to do so, from the pre-illness phase where health and wellness is being promoted; to the illness phase where patients are treated; and the post-acute illness phase where healthcare providers help patients to regain their health or cope with their conditions.

10. Changi General Hospital has actively exploited the Internet to provide patients and the general public with convenient, easy access to the hospital's services, as well as other health-related information and resources. In this connection, I am pleased to launch the hospital's latest offering, the CGH Fit for Life programme. This new webpage enables an individual to conduct his or her own health assessment online. At the end of the analysis, each participant will receive a personalised report on his health and lifestyle-related health risks. This initiative aims to promote greater health awareness, and encourage a health-oriented lifestyle among the community. I am certain this useful service will be well-received.

11. On this note, it is my pleasure to declare the CGH Technology Month 1999 open. I wish you all an enjoyable and interesting time.

Thank you