Despite the current economic downturn, the Singapore information technology market for the healthcare sector is expected to enjoy steady growth over the next few years. With healthy reserves, the Singapore government is expected to aggressively increase public spending to stimulate the economy. There are excellent opportunities for U.S. vendors and service providers to participate and sell their solutions to the existing healthcare providers as well as to four new hospitals that are scheduled to be built. Singapore is heavily dependent on imports for state-of-the-art IT technology for the healthcare sector. It also serves as a major distribution center for companies interested in selling to the region. Areas of best prospects include solutions for a National Electronic Healthcare Record system, National E-Health Portal, and the supply of Healthcare IT personnel and expertise.
Despite the current economic downturn, the information technology (IT) market for the healthcare sector in Singapore is expected to enjoy steady growth. The Singapore government is in a strong financial position to use fiscal policy to stimulate the economy including accelerating investments in IT spending in the healthcare sector to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of delivering healthcare services in the country. There are more than 20 hospitals and specialty centers providing a spectrum of healthcare services to its residents as well as foreigners seeking medical treatment in the country. Although healthcare service is cheaper here than in other developed countries, quality is comparable to those in developed nations. Singapore aspires to be Asia’s healthcare center offering world class healthcare services and U.S. companies with cutting-edge healthcare technology would find good opportunities here.
In June 2006, the Singapore government announced iN2015, a 10-year IT Master Plan. In the area of healthcare, the vision was to connect the country’s healthcare facilities. A major goal was to have a nation-wide National Electronic Health Record system where all information will be integrated and seamless. In early 2007, the government announced plans to consolidate patient medical records in a common IT system to enable the information to be shared, securely, between doctors from both the public and private sectors in the country. The government has implemented the Electronic Medical Record Exchange (EMRX) in the public sector and extended the system to include community hospitals. The Ministry of Health reported that there will be continuous improvement to the EMRX system as resources are being committed to look at adding new functionalities and capabilities to the system through leveraging new and emerging technology. The government also worked with general practitioners in the country to e-enable their work via an integrated clinic management system (CMS). The initiative was announced in 2006 and it is a four-year plan for GPs to access and update patient record and billing and other related functions. The government is targeting to implement the CMS in 1,000 clinics by the end of 2011.
In October 2007, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), Ministry of Health and The Enterprise Challenge (TEC) issued a Healthcare Call-For-Collaboration (CFC), inviting healthcare institutions and infocomm partners to form consortia to architect, develop and trial innovative solutions to improve efficiency in the healthcare system and provide better clinical care quality. Twenty seven proposals were submitted by various vendors and seven consortia were selected to trial their respective infocomm solutions. The Singapore government will contribute S$3 million (about US$2 million) to support the seven projects over two years. Besides a wireless transmission system that can send electrocardiograms from the ambulance to emergency ward, other projects include a real-time operating theatre dashboard that can collect and display patient's surgical data from disparate sources, and an interactive Web-portal that helps children who suffer from behavioral and emotional disorders. Developing those and other solutions are consortia led by the National University Hospital (NUH), Singapore General Hospital (SGH), Institute of Mental Health (IMH), O'Connor's, National Healthcare Group (NHG), National Heart Centre (NHC) and Singapore Health Services (SHS). The projects are expected to be completed by 2010.
By Chia Swee Hoon