To shift care beyond the hospital to the community, national Telehealth pilots are being progressively rolled out across Singapore. The initiatives seek to trial its effectiveness in various use cases, and bring patients greater convenience, enhance patient access to healthcare services, enable proactive monitoring, and optimise manpower and resources. These Telehealth initiatives are: Smart Health Video Consultation, Smart Health TeleRehab, and Smart Health Vital Signs Monitoring.

Such initiatives enable patients to receive care in convenient locations of their choice. Patients can also receive more timely advice and intervention to manage their conditions. It may also reduce caregiver burden and empower individuals to take an active role in their health.

Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), the health technology agency for Singapore, has put in place national IT platforms and is working with various public and private healthcare institutions to pilot the telehealth platforms and telehealth services.

Smart Health Vital Signs Monitoring

Smart Health Vital Signs Monitoring (VSM) will enable the remote monitoring of vital signs such as the blood pressure, blood glucose, or weight of patients with conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart or pulmonary diseases. Patients can in turn receive more timely advice and intervention to manage their conditions, reducing unplanned visits to the Specialist Outpatient Clinics or Emergency Department. As a whole, the use of VSM can enable more regular monitoring, improve patient management and reduce hospital visits and readmissions.

Primary Tech-Enhanced Care (PTEC)

One of the programmes that harnesses VSM is the Primary Tech-Enhanced Care (PTEC) programme, a collaborative effort by the MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT) and the three Polyclinic Clusters - National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP), National University Polyclinics (NUP) and SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP), and supported by IHiS. PTEC aims to provide care support with simple-to-use technologies (e.g. VSM devices, chatbot) that enable patients with chronic diseases to better self-manage their condition and improve their health from home while reducing visits to the polyclinic.

PTEC will benefit patients who want to better control their chronic conditions, but have busy lifestyles and/or are less ambulant. With PTEC, these patients can self-manage their conditions to prevent disease progression and avoid complications.

Building on the encouraging and positive outcomes from the one-year pilot, PTEC is launching the first programme, i.e. Home Blood Pressure Monitoring Programme, nationally from August 2020 across the three polyclinic clusters (NHGP, NUP and SHP). The longterm goal for PTEC is to test-bed more solutions and provide a full range of support for patients with different chronic care needs. The next steps for PTEC will be: (1) extending to include other chronic conditions such as diabetes with e-coaching and home HbA1c tests in the future, and (2) expanding to more primary care partners to benefit more patients.