SPEECH BY PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM AT THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE CGH-SACH INTEGRATED BUILDING AND THE CGH CENTRE FOR HEALTHCARE ASSISTIVE AND ROBOTICS TECHNOLOGY ON 23 JULY 2015

Mr Gan Kim Yong

Minister for Health

 

Dr Amy Khor

Senior Minister of State for Health

 

Mr Gerard Ee

Chairman, Eastern Health Alliance

 

The Right Reverend Low Jee King

Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Singapore

 

Distinguished Guests 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

I am glad to be here today to officiate the opening of The Integrated Building, operated jointly by Changi General Hospital (CGH) and St. Andrew’s Community Hospital (SACH), as well as to launch CGH’s Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology.

 An Ageing Singapore

Singapore is ageing rapidly.  By 2030, the number of seniors above the age of 65 will more than double to 900,000. About one in five residents will be above the age of 65.  As we celebrate our nation’s 50th birthday this year, it is timely for us to look forward to the next 50 years, particularly to plan how we can prepare all Singaporeans to age well and live active, meaningful lives.

Over the past decade, the Ministry of Health has been increasing capacity to meet the rising healthcare needs of Singaporeans as part of its Healthcare 2020 Masterplan. It has added more than 1,700 acute hospital and community hospital beds.  MOH has also been rapidly expanding aged care services, including eldercare day services, nursing home and home care services.

But apart from capacity, our healthcare system faces the challenge of providing more and better care suitable for our seniors, and doing so with a limited workforce.  We need to continue to innovate and leverage on technology to make healthcare delivery more proactive, more patient centric and more productive.

The Integrated Building

The Integrated Building (IB) is an example of innovation in the delivery of healthcare.  It showcases innovative design, facilities and care processes that provide an integrated and seamless transition for patients from acute care, to rehabilitative care, and then to recovery.

The IB is designed to help patients regain their functions at a faster rate.  This is especially important for older patients admitted for acute medical conditions, as well as patients recovering from stroke or traumatic brain injury.  For instance, the Centre for Independent Living and the Transitional Living Units, which simulates the conditions of an HDB apartment, allows patients to begin their adjustment to their homes and neighborhoods. New technology has also been incorporated into the care processes to increase productivity and augment the rehabilitation of patients.  One such example is the Augmented Reality Games for Therapy - an initiative of Temasek Cares and the Agency for Integrated Care and a collaboration between SACH and Singapore Polytechnic - which helps motivate patients to participate actively in rehabilitation programmes, which can otherwise be quite tedious.

CHARTing the Future of Healthcare

Robotics and assistive technologies can also play a critical role in complementing our healthcare workforce in delivering care that is efficient, safe and of high quality. The Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology (CHART) provides a platform for research institutes, companies and healthcare practitioners to collaborate in the development of new impactful healthcare delivery solutions by harnessing the potential of robotics and assistive technologies.

These solutions can enhance clinical care, as well as staff safety and efficiency. For example, Changi General Hospital has introduced trackless autonomous transporter robots that move specimens and medicines throughout the IB, which saves manpower and time in a simple and practical way.

CHART will contribute to Singapore’s vision of being a Smart Nation and push the boundaries in the use of robotics in what has traditionally been seen as a high touch service sector. This is a significant national effort, and one in which I am very encouraged to see the

healthcare sector take the lead.  CHART will also serve as part of the National Robotics Programme, a multi-agency initiative to coordinate and support the end-to-end development of robotics technologies and test-bedding of initiatives across various sectors. More details about the National Robotics Programme will be announced by the Government later this year.

 Synergising CHART and IB

 Together, CHART and the IB can work in synergy to shape the delivery of healthcare for the future.  The IB serves as a living laboratory for prototypes developed by CHART, enabling new solutions developed in the test environment to be applied in the real-life environment.  Patients will benefit from early access to these innovative solutions that expedite functional restoration and facilitate an early return to the community.

Though technologies offer many possibilities for improvements, the compassion and goodwill of our medical staff remains critical. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage our healthcare practitioners and workers to continue cultivating and nurturing their care and empathy for patients and their families.  Our healthcare professionals continue to play an important role in enhancing our healthcare system by harnessing technologies while keeping the needs and well-being of patients at the forefront.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by congratulating Changi General Hospital and St Andrew’s Community Hospital on their achievement in making The Integrated Building a reality. I would also like to commend the Ministry of Health and the Economic Development Board for helping to set up the Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology.  I am glad to see the strong partnership between CGH, SACH and industry in bringing about the synergy between the IB and CHART.

I am confident that this will not only catalyse innovations that will help Singapore realise its vision as a place where our seniors can age well, but also bring about better care for all Singaporeans.

Thank you.