Technology Innovations in Primary Care
Technology innovation is perceived by many to happen mainly in hospitals or specialist clinics. We cannot imagine breakthroughs in health technology happening in our neighbourhood polyclinics, general practitioner (GP) clinics or even in our own home. Well, this is about to change in Singapore.
MOHT has been sourcing and evaluating high-impact primary care technologies around the world, with the goal of disseminating their use in our primary care settings. Our aim is to improve accessibility of primary care services while increasing the productivity of our stretched healthcare workforce, and without compromising care quality or personal touch.
These innovative technologies will leapfrog Singapore’s primary care system into the 21st century, improving the lives of Singaporeans and better preparing ourselves for population ageing. The high prevalence of chronic conditions and the large numbers of patients seen in primary care are key factors that drive economies of scale and thus cost-effectiveness of such technologies in primary care.
In the next five years, MOHT will be rolling out one such technology to all polyclinics in Singapore, as part of the Primary Tech-Enhanced Care (PTEC) telehealth programme, and in fact we have already rolled it out to NHGP!
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the value of telehealth in empowering patients with chronic diseases to manage their condition at home without visiting clinics unnecessarily, because patients with chronic disease are at higher risk of developing complications if they contract COVID-19 than healthy persons.
Our first module will help patients with high blood pressure – PTEC (Hypertension) is an affordable, simple-to-use and interactive blood pressure tele-monitoring system that better connects you to health advice, sending your blood pressure readings automatically via Bluetooth from your smartphone to your primary healthcare team who will review them and advise on your medications remotely over phone calls and medication delivery services.
Rigorous preliminary study of this system has found it to achieve target blood pressure levels faster, with high satisfaction by patients and healthcare providers. This way, patients with hypertension can manage their blood pressure in the comfort of their own homes, without visiting clinics and exposing themselves to other patients with acute respiratory illnesses.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so watch this video to better understand what PTEC (Hypertension) will offer patients with high blood pressure:
PTEC (HT) will be rolled out first to polyclinics, then to private GP clinics. Check back here for updates on our rollout plans!
Professor Gerald Koh is the Clinical Director for the Future Primary Care programme at MOHT. His area of focus is the transformation of primary care using telehealth, novel diagnostic tools, new models of care, data analytics and dashboards as enablers. He works with stakeholders from public polyclinics and private general practitioners to ensure that potential solutions that empower patients and providers to improve quality of care can be rapidly prototyped and tested.