Featured image via Ministry of Health’s official Facebook page.
At the opening of the Futurehealth Conference 2017 yesterday, Minister for Health Mr. Gan Kim Yong launched the Healthcare Industry Transformation Map (ITM). A tripartite effort, the ITM maps out strategies to steer the healthcare industry and workforce towards better skills and better work so that they can deliver better care for Singaporeans.
The Singapore healthcare system faces several long-term trends. With an ageing population and rising chronic disease incidence, healthcare needs will increase in demand and complexity. The challenge is to meet these needs with Singapore’s fiscal and manpower resources in a sustainable manner.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has set out three key shifts for Singapore’s healthcare system. First, moving beyond healthcare to health through more effective health promotion and disease prevention. Second, moving beyond hospital to community by shifting the centre of gravity of care from the acute hospital setting to the primary care, community and home settings, while maintaining care outcomes. And finally, shifting beyond quality to value through ensuring appropriate and cost-effective care.
The Healthcare ITM sets out three strategies that will support these shifts. MOH will work with healthcare providers, unions and healthcare professionals, and academia and research institutions to implement the strategies.
Enhancing Jobs and Skills
MOH will attract more locals to join the healthcare sector, and provide multiple pathways for mid-career Singaporeans to find new opportunities. For example, new schemes will be introduced, like the ongoing Senior Management Associate Scheme, that will help mid-career Singaporeans take on specific job roles or leadership positions in healthcare. MOH will also open up more training pathways to facilitate more mid-career PMETs to join nursing.
MOH will develop new skills among the healthcare workforce to support our transformation of healthcare services. One priority is community nursing. The Community Nursing Scholarships have just been launched to build up manpower in the aged care sector, and groom future nursing leaders through rotations across care settings.
MOH will redesign jobs and enhance skills upgrading initiatives to build a future ready healthcare workforce who can enjoy meaningful careers. For example, beyond supporting hospital operations and administration, outpatient Patient Service Associates (PSAs) are being trained to perform some clinical tasks like venepuncture, uroflow, electrocardiogram, and basic medication checking.
By end 2018, opportunities for new roles and broaden the skills for nurses, allied health professionals, pharmacy technicians and support care staff will also be expanded.
The Ministry is working with with healthcare providers to review and streamline workflows, so that healthcare staff can better focus their time and energy on patient care. In particular, MOH will support nurses and review the amount of nursing time spent on tasks such as inventory management, documentation, food service and patient transport.
The use of cost-effective technology and assistive equipment will also be scaled up to make work easier, especially for Singapore’s ageing workforce. For example, the Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology (CHART) will bulk purchase close to 600 bed transporters for deployment across Changi General Hospital (CGH), Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), National University Hospital (NUH) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) in phases starting from June 2018. By reducing the physical strain of healthcare jobs, the Ministry aims to support Singapore’s ageing workforce to continue working longer.
MOH will introduce innovative and patient-centric solutions, and testbed them in new hospital developments, such as the Woodlands Health Campus. Technologies will be applied both in operations and patient care. Some examples include RFID technology to track patients in real time, virtual patient monitoring and smart logistics solutions to monitor and top up consumables and medication.
MOH will enable the private sector to play a meaningful role in healthcare provision for Singaporeans. For instance, under the upcoming Primary Care Networks (PCNs) initiative, MOH will provide additional resources and support services to enable private GPs to work as a team to better care for chronic disease patients. MOH will also expand its schemes in the aged care sector to enable private sector players to participate in the growing aged care services market.
MOH also intends to empower patients for self care and more informed decision making. A Health Marketplace, an online matching platform that links patients and caregivers to home care services and supplies, will be developed to improve matching of demand and supply, and unlock untapped resources.
The Ministry will also help all healthcare providers to digitise their medical records and connect to the National Electronic Health Records (NEHR) system for better information sharing across healthcare providers and integrated care.