SINGAPORE: Patients can soon “see” their doctors online from the comfort of their own home, with the launch of a national video consultation platform for healthcare services on Wednesday (Apr 12).
The cloud-based platform allows for multi-party video conferencing, file sharing and the display of medical reports or images during consultations. Each video consultation session also uses end-to-end encryption and is protected with security measures, such as two-factor authentication.
Six public healthcare institutions will be the first to launch the system, which is accessible via smartphone or computer.
Since November last year, video consultations have been available for selected services at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), the Institute of Mental Health, Singapore General Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
From mid-2017, the platform will also be used at the National University Hospital and National University Cancer Institute.
At KKH, the service will be expanded to areas such as paediatric home care, lactation consultation, speech therapy and follow-ups for paediatric eczema pharmacy. For the other institutions, patients can communicate with their doctors on issues such as post-stroke needs, communicable diseases and cancer.
PATIENTS CAN BE MONITORED MORE REGULARLY
Launched by the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), the national technology agency for healthcare, the platform will allow doctors to “monitor patients more regularly than traditional face-to-face appointments”, said Associate Professor Low Cheng Ooi, the chief clinical informatics officer of IHiS.
Mr Bruce Liang, the chief executive officer of IHiS, said that video consultations will be used to better serve patients, particularly those with mobility issues or who were just discharged.
“It brings care into the home, enables patients to rest at home and reduces caregiver absence from work,” he said.
If there is a pandemic, video consultations can help reduce the number of people exposed to communicable diseases, Mr Liang added.
Patients will also receive more timely care, and healthcare professionals will save time travelling to and from nursing homes, allowing them to see their patients more often, he said.
The roll-out is one of three telehealth initiatives for this year. The other two initiatives are remote vital signs monitoring and tele-rehabilitation, which will allow healthcare professionals prescribe rehabilitation programmes remotely.
More details of the two initiatives will be announced later this year, IHiS said.