Woodlands is raising the bar for healthcare by getting Singapore's first hospital complex with facilities designed from the outset to complement one another. It will also be driven by technology that enables fewer staff to care for patients.
The 1,800-bed Woodlands Health Campus (WHC), which expects to see its first patient in 2022, will have an acute hospital and a community hospital sharing the same building from the start. It will also house a nursing home and specialist clinics.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told The Straits Times that the WHC would be the first hospital complex in which acute and community care services have been conceptualised together and are being built at the same time.
"We will have seamless integration from hospital to community hospital to nursing home, so if you are in the nursing home and need acute care, it's very near," he said.
Set on a plot of land the size of 11 football fields, the various institutes will also share common facilities such as gardens and rehabilitation centres, as well as services like laundry and cooking.
At the ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, Mr Gan said the WHC has to be "future ready" to meet the growing demands of an ageing population, while overcoming manpower constraints.
The WHC will use new technology to reduce manual work and tap data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve patient care.
The campus plans to provide every patient with a device akin to a watch on admission, to monitor vital signs, activity and location.
Nurses would know the moment a patient's blood pressure rises by too much, or be able to locate a dementia patient. They could also keep tabs on a patient's condition via teleconferencing after he returns home.
In that sense, Mr Gan said, hospitals of the future would be like air traffic control towers "from which the healthcare team monitors its patients whether they are in the hospital or at home".
Dr Jason Cheah, head of the planning committee and chief executive of the Agency for Integrated Care, said the campus will serve patients with care needs ranging from the urgent stage, to recovery or end of life.
"Unlike in the past, our future patients will require longer and deeper relationships to be established with care providers," he said.
The plan is to offer patients better alternatives to hospitalisation, Dr Cheah added.
The WHC will work with doctors and community providers and partners. It will also use technology such as telehealth and video conferencing to provide care for patients outside of the hospital and encourage them to self-monitor and manage their conditions.
On the recent announcement of plans to add as many as 10,000 new homes in the area, Mr Gan said that the WHC is well placed to support the growth of Woodlands as a regional centre.
Several MPs from the area were at the ceremony, including Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan and Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob.