SINGAPORE: A new facility poised to play a key role in the ongoing transformation of Singapore’s healthcare sector was opened on Thursday (May 9).
The Ng Teng Fong Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI) aims to be the landmark physical space for healthcare professionals and industry partners to come together to turn their ideas into possible solutions that can be used in real life.
With its opening, more new and innovative healthcare projects could be in the pipeline.
CHI is located next to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in the vicinity of Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), and together both facilities cost S$940 million to build.
The centre is one of nine new developments under the Health City Novena Master Plan 2030, launched by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in 2013. It spans 25,000 sq m over nine storeys and provides a physical area to foster innovation.
At CHI’s official opening, Mr Gan said he hopes to see CHI play a pivotal role in promoting innovation in healthcare with its 37 partners.
“Innovation does not take place in silos, but requires networks, as ideas build on one another," he said.
"It is critical for our healthcare institutions to collaborate with local and overseas partners, and across industries. We must capitalise on the collective knowledge and experience of our institutions to co-create new ideas and solutions."
This includes open engagement spaces, learning studios and innovation labs such as the CHI Living Lab (CHILL), a "makerspace" where anyone with ideas to enhance patient care can come to develop prototypes using tools such as an onsite 3D printer.
One idea that has already taken shape in CHILL is the FUSA Geriatric Chair, the result of a collaboration with Nanyang Polytechnic.
The chair provides sufficient support for less mobile seniors to self-ambulate, or basically get out of bed for a while and sit in an upright position.
The unique design of the chair also allows it to be flattened, so it can double up as a bed for caregivers and even a sitting bench for up to three visitors. This first life-sized prototype is currently being trialled at TTSH.
CHI is also home to the Command, Control and Communications (C3) system, developed by TTSH and the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS).
The C3 system serves as the brain of a smart hospital, keeping tabs on bed occupancy as well as patient in and outflow.
With the system, only three operators are needed to manage TTSH’s 1,600 beds for more efficient operations and reduce waiting times for patients.
The C3 System is set to go live progressively from third quarter of this year, supporting TTSH’s daily operations and is expected to be scalable to other public hospitals from 2020.
“With C3, we will leverage machine learning with both historical and real-time data to give us greater insights on the inflow and outflow of patients, highlight current bottlenecks, predict future demand, as well as enable autonomous decision-making with more than 600 pre-defined formulas to uplift resource utilisation to enhance patient care," said Mr Bruce Liang, Chief Information Officer at the Ministry of Health and CEO of Integrated Health Information Systems.
"When scaled at a national level, C3 will enable enhanced load balancing of our healthcare resources across the public hospitals to better serve our population, as well as allow for better coordination during a national crisis."
After touring the centre, Mr Gan noted C3 is an example of keeping patients at the centre of care in the midst of innovation and transformation.
“By testing new ways of conducting our operations and processes, we have the potential to deliver even better and safer care for our patients, while being more sustainable in optimising the use of our resources,” he said.
The CHI will also host an open knowledge repository of healthcare best practices, past project reports and learning experiences.
The online portal called the CHI Learning & Development (CHILD) system will facilitate access to information and know-how across healthcare institutions in Singapore.