Virtual doctors providing patients with tailored health advice. Applications to help patients manage chronic diseases. These are just two examples of digital solutions to be developed by a new centre.
Healthcare service provider Zuellig Pharma officially launched its innovation centre Zuellig Health Solutions, which will be housed at Zuellig Pharma's current office in Scotts Road, yesterday .
The aim is to use data to develop more effective treatment and disease management plans, manage healthcare costs and prevent or delay the onset of diseases.
It will invest over $50 million in the centre over the next five years.
To tackle challenges in healthcare caused by ageing populations and rising chronic disease rates, Zuellig Pharma chief executive John Davison said the centre needs to create new, innovative solutions.
"This is what Zuellig Health Solutions was set up to do. It will... create new approaches that address issues of access, including education, information, affordability and supply chain reach," he said.
The centre was established with the support of the Economic Development Board, which will share the costs of employing more than 50 healthcare, technology and data specialists to work at the centre.
Zuellig Health Solutions has also partnered with the National Healthcare Group to develop predictive models for early health screening using data analytics.
"We are currently discussing with the National Healthcare Group to analyse the data of their diabetic patients. This allows us to find correlations based on the demographic characteristics and the types of disease progression and treatment patterns the patients have had. Data analytics can then be used to come up with algorithms for more effective treatments," said Mr Maarten Kelder, Zuellig Pharma's senior vice-president in charge of strategy and solutions.
During a panel discussion at the launch, National Healthcare Group's chief medical information officer, Dr Eric Wong, said the new technology will help to improve overall levels of health and reduce healthcare costs.
"Effective analytics will allow us to better manage early population health screening, gain insight into ways to reduce preventable admissions and avoidable readmissions, decrease the length of hospital stays and improve cost-effective prescribing," he said.
While these benefits of new digital solutions will be helpful to patients, Dr David Tan, a consultant medical oncologist and clinician scientist at the National University Cancer Institute, highlighted that medical treatment's personal touch will still be necessary.
"Healthcare is one of the areas where no matter how much you automate, you can never fully replace the one-to-one physician interaction that is required," he said.