Speech by Parliamentary Secretary for Health at the Singapore Health Quality Service Award 2015 on 16 January 2015, 3.45 pm, at the University Cultural Centre

Professor Ivy Ng, Group CEO, SingHealth
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Introduction

1. It is my pleasure to join you this afternoon at the Singapore Health Quality Service Award to celebrate our healthcare family’s commitment to service excellence. On behalf of patients and their families, thank you for your remarkable dedication in providing quality care, and for going beyond the call of duty to improve your patients’ lives.

Improving Quality of Care Remains a Key Focus

2. We are ramping up capacity across the healthcare sector to address the needs of our population. Even as we do so, improving quality of care will remain a key focus of the healthcare family. The Singapore Healthcare Improvement Network, or SHINe, reflects our collective commitment to better care, better health and better value for all patients. We have also finalised the set of enhanced nursing home standards which will be introduced this year, and are in the process of finalising a set of guidelines each for home care services and centre-based services for seniors.

Better Patient Outcomes

3. We seek to improve quality of care in a number of ways. Firstly, by improving our healthcare system to achieve better outcomes, so that Singaporeans can live well and enjoy peace of mind. The development of Regional Health Systems underscores this movement by transforming our model of care to be less reliant on acute hospitals, more integrated with primary care, and more centred on the patient in the community and at home.

Integrating and Delivering Patient-Centric Care

4. Secondly, we seek to improve the quality of care by integrating and delivering more patient-centric care. Take the work of MegasparkS, a multi-disciplinary team from the National Heart Centre Singapore. The team conceptualised an Advance Care Planning (ACP) programme tailored to meet the needs of patients with heart failure. Patients are engaged in discussions to share their wishes when it comes to treatment and care before they lose the ability to communicate. This not only gives them comfort and dignity during end-of-life care, but also relieves their caregivers of having to make difficult decisions that may not translate to best outcomes for patients. After a pilot run, the team found that the length of hospitalisation and bill size of patients under the programme were significantly lower than those not on it.

Improving Customer Service within the Healthcare Sector

5. Improving customer service by our frontline colleagues is a pivotal and integral aspect of quality healthcare. The One Medifund Assessment, for example, gathered representatives from the medical social services departments across the SGH Campus to streamline the application and assessment for Medifund assistance. Previously, patients applying for Medifund assistance had to go through a 45-minute assessment at every institution they visited. Following the alignment of approval guidelines, assessment frameworks and processes across institutions, patients now only need to be assessed once by a medical social worker, and this assessment will be valid for six months at all institutions on the SGH Campus as well as the SingHealth Polyclinics network.

6. This change reaped substantial savings of 168 man-days per year, which is a significant improvement in productivity. As a result, our medical social workers can now better focus on addressing patients’ psychosocial needs, and more importantly, our patients’ experience is improved as they no longer need to undergo multiple interviews which can be time consuming.

7. I am heartened to hear such examples of different groups coming together to streamline work processes for better patient outcomes. These projects show us that patient-centric care indeed goes beyond medical treatment.

Singapore Health Quality Service Award

8. Today’s event serves as a regular reminder to us not to lose sight of the need for quality in the healthcare sector. It is also a timely platform dedicated to honour outstanding individuals and teams for their contributions to service excellence.

9. This year, there are 50 per cent more winners from the Intermediate and Long-Term Care sector (ILTC), namely: Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital, Bright Vision Hospital, Econ Healthcare Group, Home Nursing Foundation, Ren Ci Hospital and St Luke’s Hospital. SingHealth also reported the highest number of winners since the Singapore Health Quality Service Award was introduced in 2011.

10. The strong support given by partners in the ILTC sector and private healthcare sector re-affirms the shared commitment to boost patient outcomes. My heartiest congratulations to all 2,748 award winners.

Leading by Example

11. Achieving quality healthcare is a never-ending quest and we need dedicated people to drive this pursuit.

12. Patients remain the foremost priority for Dr Tan Ju Le from the National Heart Centre Singapore. Some of her patients with adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) have Down’s Syndrome. Dr Tan spends time explaining their condition to them and their families to help them better understand their condition. She also takes it upon herself to look out for job opportunities for her patients who can no longer work full-time due to their health challenges. Such acts of going the extra mile have inspired many junior doctors to be as committed as Dr Tan. As a firm believer in clinical teaching, she leads, trains and encourages them to develop interest and expertise in the area of ACHD, one of the more demanding subspecialties of cardiology.

13. Equally inspiring is Staff Nurse Mr San Lwin Oo from Ren Ci Hospital. Affectionately known as “Sun” to his patients, Mr San makes it a point to come to work half an hour earlier every day to greet his patients. He also came up with creative ways to keep patients’ minds active with little trivia quizzes. Because he has built such a strong rapport with patients and their families, they know that they can always call him for advice even after they are discharged from Ren Ci.

Conclusion

14. There are many more of such inspiring stories and they show us that it is indeed our staff who are the heartbeat of our healthcare system. I congratulate and thank each and every one of you for your commitment, passion and selfless dedication to the healthcare profession.

15. Thank you and I wish all of you a pleasant day ahead.

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