Join national health record system, private hospitals urged

The operating theatre (above) of the 220-bed Farrer Park Hospital, which was officially opened yesterday. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (left, in front), who was guest of honour, toured the new private hospital's herb garden, closely followed by ESM G
The operating theatre (above) of the 220-bed Farrer Park Hospital, which was officially opened yesterday.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
The operating theatre (above) of the 220-bed Farrer Park Hospital, which was officially opened yesterday. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (left, in front), who was guest of honour, toured the new private hospital's herb garden, closely followed by ESM G
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (in front), who was guest of honour, toured the new private hospital's herb garden, closely followed by ESM Goh Chok Tong. Mr Gan stressed that private healthcare providers should work closely with other healthcare providers, both private and public, to serve Singaporeans at affordable prices.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The private healthcare sector will be an important partner in meeting Singapore's increasing healthcare needs, particularly with a growing elderly population, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday.

He stressed that private healthcare providers should work on serving Singaporeans at affordable prices, and in closer partnership with other healthcare providers, both public and private.

Older patients, he pointed out, are more likely to need treatment that crosses from one healthcare setting to another, such as from the acute hospital to the community hospital and then to the general practitioner.

Therefore, continuity of care is crucial.

Speaking at the official opening of Farrer Park Hospital, Mr Gan called on the private sector to step up to achieve this.

One suggestion he made was for private hospitals to upgrade their IT systems to share through the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) system, patient data on matters such as recorded allergies and care history.

"To achieve seamless patient-centred care, coordination and communication between healthcare providers are important.

GOOD VALUE CARE

Elderly patients are often more price- sensitive. What we are aiming for is not the cheapest care but care which is of good value, both effective and affordable.

MR GAN KIM YONG, Health Minister.

"Private hospitals should develop the systems and relationships to facilitate this.

"I will encourage private hospitals to upgrade their IT systems to not only view NEHR records, but to also contribute their inputs on patients' health records."

Mr Gan also highlighted the "perennial" issue of affordability.

"Elderly patients are often more price-sensitive. What we are aiming for is not the cheapest care but care which is of good value, both effective and affordable.

"Healthcare providers must aim to give effective and affordable treatment to their patients. This means... choosing drugs and implants for their function and not brand name."

The hospital's chief executive officer, Dr Timothy Low, said it will aim to collaborate with other hospitals, such as by offering bed space when their occupancy rates are high.

The opening of the 220-bed Farrer Park Hospital yesterday was attended by close to 400 guests, including Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Mrs Goh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Join national health record system, private hospitals urged'. Print Edition | Subscribe