National Diabetes Database and new healthcare research centres in the works

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health (MOH) will be developing a National Diabetes Database in an effort to fight the chronic disease better.

Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat announced the effort to consolidate data at the opening of the Singapore Health and Biomedical Congress on Friday (Sept 23).

"This database will consolidate data from multiple different sources, including existing databases in our healthcare institutions, so that we can make the best possible use of our data," said Mr Chee at the event held at the Singapore Expo.

He said that there is a lot of data on diabetes currently, but it resides in multiple data repositories at MOH and healthcare institutions.

"Not only is the data not connected to each other, but the data in each database is a little different from each other, making comparisons of data across different databases difficult," he said.

He added that the database is expected to bring about benefits such as clinicians having more holistic and evidence-based data to support their decision making, and being able to identify and counsel high risk patients so that more tailored and intensive interventions can be delivered.

MOH will also be able to monitor and evaluate the impact of its policies and programmes on diabetes prevalence, health outcomes and healthcare utilisation, he said.

Currently, over 400,000 Singaporeans have diabetes. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong declared a "war" against the disease in April.

Mr Chee also announced that Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and National Healthcare Group (NHG) will jointly set up two new research centres.

The Centre for Primary Health Care Research and Innovation will look at introducing new technologies and creative ways of delivering quality family medicine and primary care for patients.

The other centre, the Games for Health Innovation Centre, will look at serious games that can be used to motivate patients to take greater ownership and care of their health by making the process fun.

An NHG spokesman also said that the two organisations have started an interdisciplinary research partnership for infectious diseases. They will focus on the fields of research and development of outbreak management, evidence-based treatment, and monitoring of infectious diseases.

Top on the list of diseases the organisations will address include Zika, dengue and antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis.

An early project will focus on the development of Point of Care Tests. Such tests allow for rapid diagnostic tests to be done outside the laboratory and within the community.

The technology will enable healthcare professionals to make quick decisions on treatment or need for further tests, save time and facilitate more proactive testing of individuals, the spokesman said.