New system to give critical care patients quicker access to emergency services

SCDF ambulance crew demonstrating the use of the OMNII system on a mock patient inside an ambulance on Aug 24, 2021.
SCDF ambulance crew demonstrating the use of the OMNII system on a mock patient inside an ambulance on Aug 24, 2021.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Emergency care will be made quicker from Thursday (Aug 26) with three changes to the way Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulances and emergency departments in hospitals coordinate.

The roll-out of the Operational Medical Networks Informatics Integrator (OMNII) system will give the care providers access to medical records, facilitate a teleconsult with doctors and allow for pre-registration of critical patients.

The system follows a collaboration between the SCDF, Ministry of Health (MOH) and Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).

In a presentation to the media on Tuesday, the organisations said the system creates a common platform that links "stakeholders in the pre-hospital emergency care services, such as SCDF's Operations Centre, SCDF Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and hospitals' emergency departments".

It will enhance the work of paramedics and field operations, added Colonel (Dr) Colin Tan, SCDF's chief medical officer.

"Every day in the emergency room, we are used to dealing with strokes, heart attacks, trauma, or even cardiac arrest, where every minute makes a difference," said Professor Marcus Ong, the clinical director of MOH's Unit for Prehospital Emergency Care.

The system, he said, leverages "digitalisation and information technology in order to ensure timely flow of information between emergency care providers".

From Thursday, once an ambulance is dispatched, the SCDF operations centre will ask for the patient's NRIC in order to retrieve the relevant health records.

The paramedic will also verify the identification at the site.

For non-citizens, other forms of identification such as an employment pass or work permit could be used to access patient data. If the patient cannot be identified, he could be registered first as an unknown person.

MOH said with the health records, the emergency department doctor will know what to expect.

If the patient has a history of asthma, for example, this information will be sent to the SCDF paramedic, who is equipped with the OMNII system.



The system leverages digitalisation and information technology in order to ensure timely flow of information between emergency care providers. PHOTO: SCDF

The second change to the current system will see the paramedics take photos or videos of the patient's injury, or the accident scene, to facilitate a telemedicine consultation with the emergency doctor en route to the hospital.

The consultation will be done over text and video call.

The OMNII system will also allow the patient's vital signs to be shared with the emergency departments in real-time.

This will help doctors to prepare, taking into account the patient's condition.

In the third change, SCDF paramedics will pre-register critical cases to enable the emergency department to prepare for the patient's arrival.


The second change to the current system will see the paramedics take photos or videos of the patient's injury, or the accident scene, to facilitate a telemedicine consultation with the emergency doctor en route to the hospital. PHOTO: SCDF

Professor Ong said the OMNII system will enable emergency departments in hospitals to retrieve patient records and start ordering scans, X-rays or medications for patients.

"It will reduce unnecessary delays that may happen in the manual process (of handing over patient data)," he added.

Pre-registration will be rolled out in SingHealth hospitals first, followed by other hospitals over the next year.

This is due to the ongoing electronic medical record migration in other hospitals under the National University Health System, National Healthcare Group and Raffles Medical Group.

Ms Fannie Lim, senior programme manager of DSTA's Systems Engineering and C3 Centre, said the system uses analytics and data sharing, as well cloud technology to ensure data is shared in a safe and reliable way.

She added that DSTA is working with paramedics and emergency department doctors and nurses to ensure the system is intuitive and user-friendly.