Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health, at the Opening of the Singapore Health & Biomedical Congress 2014, 26 September 2014

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health,

Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman, Agency for Science, Technology and Research,

Professor Freddy Boey, Provost, Nanyang Technological University,

Ms Karen Caindec, Board Director, Southcentral Foundation, Alaska, Professor Chee Yam Cheng, Group CEO, National Healthcare Group,

Dr Keith Tsou, Chairman, Organising Committee, Singapore Health & Biomedical Congress 2014,

Delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning. To our guests from overseas, a very warm welcome to Singapore. I am happy to join you here at the 13th annual Singapore Health & Biomedical Congress (SHBC) 2014.

2.           Over the years, SHBC has grown to be the largest healthcare congress in Singapore. Gathering some 3,000 local and international clinicians, medical and healthcare researchers and professionals, the discussions have grown more diverse, deeper and richer since its inception in 2002. The theme for this year’s congress is a timely and important one: “Redefining Healthcare for the Future – Educating, Innovating & Leading for Progress”.


3.           Indeed, while we continue to increase the capacity of healthcare services, the key to better, more appropriate and yet affordable and sustainable healthcare is a transformation in care delivery, to better the meet the evolving needs of an ageing population.

4.           Transformation of care is only possible when all stakeholders work together: acute and community hospitals, nursing homes, home care and day-rehabilitation providers, polyclinics, General Practitioners, care-givers as well as voluntary welfare organisations.  We must work closely together to create a robust support framework for patients, their families, and the larger community, with patients at the centre of this care ecosystem.

5.           This is what we seek to achieve within Regional Health Systems in Singapore. By integrating care across settings within a regional health system, we want to gradually change the focal point for care, from acute hospitals, to the patients, at the centre.

6.           For example, the National Healthcare Group (NHG) is making significant efforts to develop a suite of care services for Singaporeans living within the Central region.

a.   It has taken efforts to promote health “upstream”, rather than confine its efforts to treating patients when they fall ill. Under the Community Health Engagement Programme (CHEP), NHG collaborates with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to organise regular community-based workshops to teach participants practical tips to take better care of their health. They also conduct screening for the elderly regularly. Since its introduction in 2009, CHEP has reached out to some 3,000 people in our community.

b.   NHG also partners primary care stakeholders to set up Family Medicine Clinics to expand the access to good quality primary care. It is also working with National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, to experiment a team based care approach to better respond to the multitude of needs of chronic disease patients so that they can take better care of patients in the community.

c.   For those patients who are quite ill and come to Tan Tock Seng for treatment, the NHG ensures that care follows them from hospital to home. It has established transitional care teams to care for patients at home in the immediate post discharge period, and has set up integrated care programmes like the Virtual Hospital, to help patients better manage their conditions and reduce readmission to hospital.

7.           I am encouraged to note that there are similar efforts overseas that have produced promising results, such as the Southcentral Foundation, and we are going to hear from them in a while. This conference provides a good opportunity to exchange ideas and share experiences, so that we can explore and develop new models of care and bring healthcare delivery to a higher level for the populations we serve.


8.           The drive to transform care needs to be underpinned by research, constant innovation and manpower development.

9.           NHG’s integrated care programmes are enabled by robust analysis done by the NHG’s Health Services & Outcomes Research (HSOR) department.  Studies focusing on population health and chronic disease management have given NHG a better understanding of patients’ needs, and allowed them to develop more relevant and holistic treatment programmes for patients.

10.       Technology can also play a key role in improving care delivery. For instance, in Singapore’s largest Rehabilitation Medicine unit in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), robotics and neuro-interfacing have helped improve the care for patients. TTSH’s Centre for Advanced Rehabilitation Therapeutics, or CART, provides ambulatory outpatient rehabilitation consultations by combining innovative robotics and simulation games with traditional rehabilitation therapy. This novel approach better engages and motivates patients to go for therapy.

11.       I would like to congratulate NHG, Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Nanyang Technological University on the signing of Memorandum of Understanding today, to establish the Rehabilitation Research Institute of Singapore, or RRIS (pronounced ‘RISE’), for short. The institute aims to develop innovative technologies in the field of rehabilitation medicine, by leveraging on the scientific, engineering and clinical expertise of its partners.

12.       In terms of manpower development, students at Singapore’s newest medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, with NHG as the school’s primary clinical training partner, will undergo an innovative curriculum that equips them with not just medical knowledge but essential skills such as interpersonal communication, leadership and a passion for life-long learning.

13.       I am happy to note that SHBC 2014 will also host the inaugural National Healthcare Group-Tan Tock Seng Hospital Student Festival tomorrow. This event caters especially to students from the Medical, Nursing, and Allied Health professions. There will be non-curricular educational activities to encourage inter-professional sharing, teamwork and networking.


14.       In closing, today’s SHBC is testament of the commitment of healthcare colleagues all over the world in seeking to provide even better care outcomes through education and innovation. Thank you for your continued dedication in these endeavours. I wish all of you a successful and fruitful congress.

15.       Thank you.


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