Speech by Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Transport, at TTSH’s Singapore Patient Conference, 25 Oct 2013

Professor Philip Choo, Chief Executive Officer, TTSH

Dr Eugene Fidelis Soh, Organising Chair of the Conference

Community partners, patients and volunteers,

I am pleased to be invited to this inaugural patient conference. The theme of today’s conference “Connecting with Patients and Community” is especially close to my heart. In the course of my day-to-day work as an MP, I have met and interacted with many of my residents who are either patients or caregivers. Several have shared their experiences with me, including their worries and anxieties, which I can identify with.

2 Today’s theme on connecting with patients and the community to create a better patient experience is a very timely one. Good healthcare delivery goes beyond ensuring good clinical outcomes and that patients remain healthy. It is also about creating a positive experience for patients as they transit between various care settings and healthcare institutions within the care continuum.

3 With a fast ageing population, and changes in disease patterns, good patient care may need to transcend the doors of the hospital, and entail the hospital partnering the community effectively for better patient care.

Transforming Patient Experience

4 To achieve a transformation in patient experience, we need to achieve a few things. First, we need a team of knowledgeable yet service oriented frontline staff, as they are usually the first point of contact for patients when they enter the healthcare system. Empowering frontline staff to make decisions also gives them opportunities to go the extra mile in serving patients. This is important as from the patient’s perspective; their overall experience is defined by each encounter with the service staff and healthcare professionals within an institution.

5 Secondly, it is necessary to adopt a multi-disciplinary team based approach to deliver care that is patient centric. With a coordinated approach and the support of various healthcare professionals working towards a common goal, care teams can bring about better patient outcomes. For example, while doctors are freed up to lead such teams, nurse coordinators can work together with family members to plan for a patient’s discharge, by briefing them on home care options as well as the types of medical supplies that they would need to source for.

6 An example of the ongoing work towards ensuring patient centredness and care continuity is the Department of Continuing and Community Care under the guidance of Prof JJ Chin. It is a multidisciplinary team comprising geriatricians, family physicians, nurses, social workers and therapists who work together to help healthcare teams in the ILTC setting care for their patients. The department identifies gaps in specific areas and develops solutions to meet the gaps. Some of the work done is to spearhead end-of-life care in nursing homes through Project CARE and towards preventing falls among vulnerable elderly living in rental flats. In essence, the team ensures that patients who move between care settings do not ‘fall through the cracks.’

7 Thirdly, we need to entrench a culture of obtaining patient feedback and continuous improvement. This includes establishing processes and channels to give patients a voice and participate in giving ideas for improving the care experience.

Patient Ambassadors


8 TTSH has been a pioneer in terms of its contributions towards transforming patient experience. For instance, Patient Service Associates also serve as patient ambassadors in its outpatient clinics. These ambassadors actively look out for patients and caregivers who need assistance, especially those who need help with way-finding or additional information on the suite of services offered within the hospital. They also provide regular updates to patients on waiting times and ensure that patients are made as comfortable as possible by offering them refreshments and attempting to alleviate anxiety. TTSH’s patient ambassadors have received compliments on their attentiveness to patients’ physical needs.

CareConnect Volunteer Committee


9 A second programme run by TTSH to engage patients and their caregivers is the CareConnect Volunteer Committee (CVC), which comprises both patient volunteers and healthcare professionals. Having experienced care first-hand at TTSH, our patient volunteers now serve as a bridge between the hospital and its patients, particularly in communicating feedback. This helps to give patients a voice, and enables more patients to forge a positive relationship with the hospital. Earlier in the day, I had the chance to meet a few of these CVC members. Let me introduce one of them.

10 Mr Michael Poh had a heart attack on Christmas Day in 1999. He was treated at TTSH and recovered. Michael started working closely with TTSH to set up the hospital’s Cardiac Rehab Patient Support Group. Today at 66-years of age, Michael is still passionate about helping other cardiac patients. On weekdays, the support group is frequently sighted in TTSH, as it provides pre- and post- surgery counselling sessions to new patients and their caregivers. The group also works within the community by actively supporting the Singapore Heart Foundation’s programmes which aim to help cardiac patients adopt a healthier lifestyle.

11 As TTSH is still recruiting more members for the CVC, we hope to see it grow over time. This would enable more hospital activities to be patient-led, enabling the hospital to become increasingly patient-centred.

CareConnect


12 TTSH is going further by launching yet another new initiative. The CareConnect is a one stop information hub that makes educational resources more accessible to patients and their caregivers. By being introduced to a range of training workshops, talks and support groups that are relevant to managing their conditions, patients are empowered to take on greater responsibility for their own health. To ensure the smooth implementation of such programmes, TTSH maintains strong links with its community partners and volunteer groups.

Conclusion

13 This patient conference is yet another platform to engage the views of everyone – patients, healthcare workers and volunteers – on how to improve patient care. I look forward to very fruitful conversations today and I wish you all a successful conference.

14 Thank you.

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