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Electronic medical records to bring innovation boost to Singapore healthcare

Big changes are coming for the Singaporean health system with the government announcing a new plan to give every citizen access to their health records by 2021. The country’s Health IT Master Plan has been set and the sector is hoping that the changes brought by it will put Singapore on track to having one of the most IT-enabled healthcare systems in the world. How will electronic medical records (EMR) help make healthcare cheaper, faster and better for patients?

This week, Pacific Prime Singapore examines what these changes are, how they’ll work and, most importantly, what people can expect to see in terms of their insurance being impacted.

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What benefits do electronic medical records bring?

Chief executive officer of Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), Mr. Bruce Liang, announced in late May that the government would be making it easier for any doctor to see a patient’s medical history and treatments. Alongside helping avoid adverse drug interactions, storing information to a vast electronic database will also help patients better understand and manage their health themselves.

Many already have access to some of their medical information through the SingPass’s HealthHub portal, but the planned changes look set to allow people to receive complex chronic ailment monitoring in home, make it easier to move from primary to tertiary care throughout the country, as well as giving people the ability to book appointments or schedule specialist home visits using a mobile app.

For the healthcare sector itself, the amassing of health data from patients across the country drives a lot of innovation and efficiency changes. Hospitals and healthcare providers will be able to better identify trends, understand treatment success, and plan for patient care and future sector improvements. Currently, the National Electronic Health Records (NEHR) system doesn’t yet include private sector info, having both sectors will benefit people and the country greatly.

As many as 19,000 patients are expected to benefit from a program launched last year to identify high-risk readmissions patients. With 2,500 already identified, the program provides extra post-hospital support to help prevent their conditions from deteriorating. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong says the program has had a 70% precision rate, making it among one of the best of its type in the world.

Will these electronic medical records bring changes to health insurance?

As highlighted in our 2018 report, International Private Medical Insurance Inflation, technological advances, and big data are one of the biggest potential drivers for influencing the price of insurance premiums around the world. The report recognizes that the use of technology in the health sector should go some way to creating more efficient processes for healthcare providers and insurers alike.

Already we’re seeing trends globally, just like in Singapore, where insurers, health facilities, and governments are beginning to use mobile apps and online portals to make things easier for service providers and users to interact, monitor situations, and generally organize treatments and coverage. With international insurance inflation bumping up to 11.2% in Singapore, anything that can relieve pressure on premium prices would be welcome.

With regards to insurers themselves, the electronic medical records changes may hold both a number of benefits and challenges. The benefits may include shorter turnaround-times for claims, more stable pricing models with the increased knowledge and information the EMRs will bring, as well as stronger ground with which to approve or deny claims in the future.

This is not without its challenges, however, as there may be some work required of insurers to better align their application documentation processes with what the Singapore Government might require EMR wise. There may also be adjustments to be made to those insurers with online portals should they be required, or simply opt, to provide electronic medical record access through the same service.

How the health insurance sector reacts to the government changes remains to be seen but people can be assured that it’s very likely to affect the way insurers and patients interact with each other and the health sector in general.

Getting adequate coverage in Singapore

If you’re new to Singapore and you’re looking for comprehensive insurance coverage in Singapore, or you’ve been here a while and thinking about reevaluating your current coverage, then Pacific Prime Singapore can help. Our expert advisors can ensure that your healthcare coverage can work seamlessly with any new and existing electronic medical records technology in the Lion City.

For a free quote or some helpful advice, contact the team today!

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Content Strategist at Pacific Prime Singapore
Jessica Lindeman is a Content Strategist at Pacific Prime. She comes to work every day living and breathing the motto of "simplifying insurance", and injects her unbridled enthusiasm for health and insurance related topics into every article and piece of content she creates for Pacific Prime.

When she's not typing away on her keyboard, she's reading poetry, fueling her insatiable wanderlust, getting her coffee fix, and perpetually browsing animal Instagram accounts.