Speech by Parliamentary Secretary for Health, A/Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, at the Launch of Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Virtual Hospital Programme, 19 June 2013

Professor Phillip Choo, Chief Executive Officer, TTSH

Clinical Associate Professor Thomas Lew, Chairman, Medical Board, TTSH

Mr Stephen Loh, Deputy Chief Operating Officer (Service Operations), TTSH

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. I am happy to be here at Tan Tock Seng Hospital today to launch the Virtual Hospital programme.

Introduction

2 In a fast ageing society like ours, where the number of Singaporeans aged 65 years and above is likely to double to one-fifth of the population by 2030, it is increasingly important to ensure that healthcare services for our seniors are constantly improved to address their diverse needs. Indeed, just last month at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, I had spoken about the importance of raising public awareness to age-related macular degeneration, which is of particular concern to this group. We are thus committed to working with our healthcare providers like TTSH to put in the necessary infrastructure and holistic care options in the community to support our seniors.

3 Our seniors are also more likely to have multiple healthcare needs that span different care settings. Navigating through the complex web of healthcare and community resources – such as juggling the appointments at different specialties and different institutions, and keeping track of the medications prescribed at each of these touch points can be daunting. This is an area in which we can do more to help our seniors better manage their health.

4 To improve the integration of care, my Ministry and our public healthcare institutions constantly look out for innovative models of care to help serve our patients better.

The Virtual Hospital

5 The collaborative approach of the Virtual Hospital programme involves Tan Tock Seng’s proactive engagement of its community partners, and is a good example of the joint effort spanning healthcare and community resources in caring for needy patients. The Virtual Hospital programme enables the coordination of care plans for patients who are most vulnerable to hospital readmissions, and closely monitors their condition in the community. Such coordinated care and monitoring ensures that these patients receive adequate health and community support within the comfort of their familiar surroundings, thus minimises the risk of another costly hospital readmission.

6 I am happy to learn of how 75-year old Gerard has benefitTed from the programme. He used to enjoy an active lifestyle and playing soccer was one of his favourite pastimes. He loved travelling and learning about other cultures. However after being diagnosed with chronic conditions such as dysuria1, he has struggled to keep track of the numerous healthcare appointments as well as other issues such as multiple medications, and pain management. Gerard also found it increasingly difficult to maintain his active lifestyle and as a result of his physical ailments, even simple day-to-day responsibilities such as cooking and keeping the house tidy became increasingly challenging tasks for him.

7 Since enrolment into the Virtual Hospital, Gerard has joined 53 other patients in receiving targeted and streamlined quality care. The Virtual Hospital team works closely with its community partners such as Ang Mo Kio Family Centre Service, Central Singapore CDC and Home Nursing Foundation, just to name a few, to do home visits, medication reconciliation and telephonic monitoring.

8 With the assistance, encouragement and coordination provided by the Virtual Hospital team and its community partners, Gerard has regained his confidence and improved in the past six months since enrolment. He has re-engaged in social activities such as visiting his friends and relatives, and also attends church daily.

9 Positive health outcomes for patients like Gerard would not be possible if not for the commitment from everyone here today. Your readiness in contributing positively together has given Singaporeans with chronic disease, frailty, or who are elderly a new way to look forward to a more confident and well-managed future in the community and in the comfort of home.

Conclusion

10 I would like to thank all the communnity partners and Tan Tock Seng Hospital for this innovative and engaging approach, which will benefit Singaporeans. It is with such partnerships that we are able to serve the needs of Singaporeans better, and this is key to improving healthcare services. Thank you.


1 Dysuria refers to painful urination, and is also sometimes used to describe difficulty in urination.

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