SINGAPORE: Elderly patients with multiple chronic conditions who get admitted to Alexandra Hospital will not have to worry about visiting different doctors and transferring from ward to ward under a new care model.
Introducing the pilot care model at a media briefing held at the hospital on Friday (Dec 14), executive director at the Ministry of Health (MOH) Office for Healthcare Transformation Tan Chorh Chuan said that the new model will be better catered to Singapore’s ageing population, who frequently have several health conditions.
The elderly, Prof Tan said, for the most part have several health conditions that need to be looked at comprehensively.
Under the model, known as the integrated general hospital model, which has been in place at Alexandra Hospital since June, a patient who - for example - has had a fall due to dizziness from uncontrolled diabetes, will not be treated only for the fall.
Instead, a multidisciplinary team of professionals that will include pharmacists, nurses, allied health professionals, therapists and dietitians - and helmed by a lead doctor - will now also look at his social setting, his attitude towards caring for himself and his types of behaviour.
This team, which will meet at least twice a week, will be able to develop a comprehensive care plan for the patient from the beginning.
SEAMLESS TRANSITION COULD MAKE SYSTEM MORE EFFICIENT
Alexandra Hospital has also done away with different specialties under the new model. Other than providing holistic care from admission to discharge, the hospital will also provide in-house therapy.
Therapy is typically conducted at community hospitals, which would require a patient to be discharged from an acute hospital, then re-admitted, which could have a delay.
While the system has yet to be evaluated, there are potential advantages, some of which are already taking place, Prof Tan said.
The patient does not need to be moved from ward to ward, to see different specialists, or from an acute setting to community hospital setting, Prof Tan said. These are avenues in which the healthcare system could become more efficient without sacrificing anything, he added.
“Conceptually, the less handing over, the fewer transfers, less movement ought to be cutting out a lot of work that would otherwise be necessary,” he said.
The new model is a “game changer”, said Dr Jason Phua, CEO of Alexandra Hospital.
“If we are as holistic as possible when a patient is admitted, we are able to sort out the patient’s rehabilitation issues, social issues starting from day one," he said.
“Won't that conceptually lead to safer discharge, potentially faster discharge?"
The system's development was guided by insights on unmet needs of the residents of Queenstown, many of whom are aged 65 and above.
Mr Cheng Yam Kwang, 66, is one of the 2,500 patients who has benefited from the new system so far. He was admitted to Alexandra Hospital in June this year.
Since then, he has been under the care of Dr Desmond Teo, who receives updates on his other conditions like hypertension and heart disease, and is monitoring him to ensure that those conditions are stable.
Dr Teo said that the multidisciplinary team meetings allow him to get timely and detailed updates directly from his fellow professionals, as opposed to having to jump to the "conclusions" part of case notes, as he does not usually have time to sieve through these multiple detailed notes.
Mr Cheng also told reporters that he prefers the new model of care.
"This is much better. I see the same people, and can communicate very perfectly. I don't have to keep repeating myself. They are now like family, like friends," he said.