Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan last week wrote in his blog about the need for a more “patient-centric” system that puts patients at the heart of everything a healthcare provider does, especially in the care of the elderly. In the meantime, there is some promising new developments within the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, which is due to open in 2013. The school, which is a partnership between NTU and London’s Imperial College, aims to use technology to improve standards of care and to ensure that the patient always comes first. This will include remote check-ups via video-conferencing, or using portable devices to monitor health at all times and sound the alarm when a diabetic’s blood sugar reaches high levels.
But, as Mr Khaw pointed out in his blog, a patient-centric system would entail more than only technology. It would also require a “mindset change”, for the need to put the patient first is not a tradition here. Hopefully, the Lee Kong Chian School will help to foster this change as well. It has said its programmes will be designed to produce doctors who think about the big picture of patient care, and not just issue prescriptions. For example, students could be asked to follow individual patients over several years, to learn to read their symptoms and to communicate with them properly.
The school is part of a larger wave of changes that has gradually taken effect over the last decade, as Singapore’s population greys and there is an increasing need to provide them with seamless, relevant and accessible care. The new breed of doctors the Lee Kong Chian School aims to produce will cater to the “software” and “heartware” changes that we also need, especially to cater to Singapore’s growing elderly population.