Looking back on 2017 and ahead to 2018, the past year hasn’t been an exception—as far as constant efforts by the Singapore government in upgrading its healthcare system are concerned. New changes which took place in 2017 include reorganising the public healthcare system, new guidelines for third-party administrators and efforts to improve the community care sector. Here’s a recap of the #Top7 trending healthcare news of 2017 in Singapore, compiled by MIMS General News’ editorial desk.

1. Reorganisation of Singapore's public healthcare system

The current six regional health systems will merge to form three clusters—the Central region, comprised of the National Healthcare Group and Alexandra Health System to form the National Healthcare Group (NHG), the Eastern region, comprising the SingHealth and the Eastern Health Alliance to form a second cluster under SingHealth and the Western region, comprising the NUHS and Jurong Health Services to form the third cluster called NUHS.

Aimed to be completed by early 2018, this effort is said to better meet Singaporeans' future healthcare needs.

2. Efforts to boost the community care sector

With an ageing population, Singapore needs to build a strong community care system to provide good care and support to the growing population of seniors as it was reported that by 2030, the number of people aged 65 and older will double to 900,000.

The Community Care Manpower Development Awards (CCMDA) held at Ng Teng Fong Hospital witnessed over 100 award recipientcs. Photo credit: Cheryl Goh/Channel News Asia
The Community Care Manpower Development Awards (CCMDA) held at Ng Teng Fong Hospital witnessed over 100 award recipientcs. Photo credit: Cheryl Goh/Channel News Asia

The ministry will provide a SGD12 million boost to the community care sector through the Community Care Manpower Development Award (CCMDA) scholarship scheme, administered by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to attract more talent to join the field, as well as to support current staff in developing their careers.

Furthermore, the Sree Narayana Mission Nursing Home was recently declared a “dementia go-to point”, making it the first nursing home to become part of Singapore’s “safe-return system’ which is open 24-hours for citizens with dementia.

3. SMC imposed new guideline on TPA fees

A majority of major third-party administrators (TPAs) have revised their contracts with doctors as of October 2017, so as not to violate the Singapore Medical Council’s (SMC) new ethical guidelines which prohibit doctors from paying TPA fees that are calculated as a percentage of the patient’s total bill.

4. Long waiting time for healthcare

A survey found that more than four in five Singaporeans are satisfied with the service they have received, but identified wait times as one key area for improvement.

While many Singaporeans feel that waiting times for consultations could be improved, their wait time pales in comparison to Briton’, where non-emergency cases could stretch up to a month.
While many Singaporeans feel that waiting times for consultations could be improved, their wait time pales in comparison to Briton’, where non-emergency cases could stretch up to a month.

Of the top four pointers that patients were most concerned with were the waiting time needed to “see doctor”, “get medication”, “get appointment, and “get bed at A&E”. All these pointers were identified by more than 90% of respondents as being the top two most important areas for improvements.

While many Singaporeans feel that waiting times for consultations could be improved, their wait time pales in comparison to Briton, where non-emergency cases could stretch up to a month.

5. No change in blood pressure limit

According to the MOH, Singapore will continue to use the existing high blood pressure limits of 140/90 mmHg, although the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended a new limit of 130/80.

A MOH spokesperson reminded that the new guidelines are suggested in the US context, and they do not change the approach to management (of high blood pressure) in a major way.”

The American Heart Association has lowered the value for diagnosing hypertension to 130/80 from the previous 140/90.
The American Heart Association has lowered the value for diagnosing hypertension to 130/80 from the previous 140/90.

6. Singapore contributes 25,000 doses of rabies vaccine to Malaysia

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has contributed 25,000 doses of rabies vaccine to help Malaysia fight the outbreaks in Sarawak and Perak last August.

This marks one of the many collaborations between the neighbouring countries and is in line with precautionary measures to prevent the spread of rabies to Singapore.

7. In conversation: Dr Tan T’zu Jen on taking medical volunteering to the next level

Dr Tan with paediatric anaesthesiologist Prof Felicia Lim and their operating room and ward team nurses
Dr Tan with paediatric anaesthesiologist Prof Felicia Lim and their operating room and ward team nurses

Dr Tan T’zu Jen spends nine out of 12 months a year at a 25-bed rural hospital on the border of Thailand and Myanmar, moving far beyond the norms of a regular volunteer.

Beyond the everyday challenges of reading up and training to cover the wide breadth of tropical medicine and surgical cases, he also focuses on building up local capabilities in terms of diagnostics, procedural techniques, best practices, technology transfer and equipment upgrades. (MIMS had the privilege of meeting Dr Tan during one of his three months back in Singapore to obtain this exclusive interview.) MIMS


Read more:

2017 recap and review: Stories, headlines and highlights
Top 7 healthcare stories of 2016 – the Malaysian edition
Top 7 Singapore healthcare stories of 2016

Sources:
https://today.mims.com/singapore-s-public-healthcare-system-to-regroup-into-three-integrated-clusters
https://today.mims.com/sg-moh-investing-sgd12-million-to-improve-quality-of-community-care-sector
https://today.mims.com/fostering-dementia-friendly-community-sg-unveils-first-24-7-facility-in-yishun
https://today.mims.com/how-should-tpas-comply-with-new-smc-guidelines-
https://today.mims.com/smc-ruling-doctors-questioning-middlemen-new-fees-structures?channel=gn-local-news-sg
https://today.mims.com/addressing-the-long-wait-times-for-healthcare-in-singapore-and-abroad
https://today.mims.com/hypertension-lower-bp-number-revealed-in-new-aha-guideline?channel=gn-policies-public-health
https://today.mims.com/blood-pressure-limits-will-not-change-says-singapores-moh?channel=gn-local-news-sg
https://today.mims.com/malaysia-considered-rabies-controlled-sg-provides-25000-doses-as-precautionary-measure