Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Health (a) whether the Ministry is working with research centres in Singapore to pilot, promote and expand the use of productivity-enhancing technologies by care providers; (b) what is the budget that the Ministry provides annually for research and roll-out in this area; and (c) what are the measures of the impact and sustainability of these innovative technologies in terms of how they will improve caregiving or relieve human caregiving.
The Senior Minister of State for Health (Dr Janil Puthucheary) (for the Minister for Health): Mr Speaker, there are several efforts to encourage the use of technology to enhance care. Under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 (RIE2025) programme, the $90 million Population Health Research Grant supports projects that seek to improve health outcomes through a population health approach, including projects that aim to optimise resource allocation, improve healthcare manpower productivity and leverage technology to improve health.
The $18 million Community Care Digital Transformation Plan supports CCOs to adopt a comprehensive suite of digital solutions that help to raise digitalisation levels and improve productivity.
In addition, the National Innovation Challenge (NIC) on Active and Confident Ageing had awarded close to $70 million to 35 research projects to address the needs of seniors or improve productivity of care staff. One example is a web-based system integrating technology to enhance care at home, including the use of smart home sensors to detect falls, automated pill dispensers to track medication adherence and a nutrition database that recommends meals based on the senior’s health condition. Another used artificial intelligence to provide personalised educational resources and care triage services to caregivers. Each project is measured for their impact, with a view to scale them up if proven to be effective.
Mr Speaker: Mr Dennis Tan.
Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong (Hougang): I thank the Senior Minister of State for the answer. Just one clarification. Does the Government think that it should increase its resources, to allocate more resources to develop more and better technologies to better assist caregivers in their everyday roles?
Dr Janil Puthucheary: Sir, the answer is yes. Not all of the resource allocation is tagged specifically to digitalisation or care or elderly. There is great overlap in many of the projects: something that applies to acute care may well have an impact on elderly care; something that applies within the hospital may have an impact on the community; something which is labelled as a productivity improvement may indeed rest on digitalisation.
So, I think we do need to look at the overall effect of our various efforts to improve care, improve productivity, improve the effectiveness of our interventions and, where appropriate, use technology.
Ministry of Health
22 March 2023