Home & Office

S'pore tweaks CRM for integrated healthcare

Singapore hospital launches patient relationship management IT system, similar to that used in banks, to provide patient-centric healthcare for those with chronic and long-term diseases.
Written by Tyler Thia, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The local healthcare system has been boosted to provide proactive healthcare services designed to benefit patients with chronic and long-term diseases.

Built on the same principles as customer relationship management (CRM) systems used in banks, the upgraded patient relationship management (PRM) was tweaked to operate as a "concierge" system to support the newly set-up Disease Management Unit (DMU).

Officially launched today at Changi General Hospital (CGH), to serve the eastern region of Singapore, the DMU monitors patients enrolled in the program--typically people suffering from chronic and long-term diseases. The new unit comprises trained nurse tele-carers who, aided by the PRM system, will keep track of patients to check on their condition, and make appointments with general practitioners, polyclinics or hospitals for follow-up medical care.

Chong Yoke Sin, CEO of Integrated Health Information Systems (IHIS), said the primary goal is to gather pre-existing information in the hospital, and combine it with future input to create a proactive and patient-centric medical care system.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the event, CGH COO Selina Seah explained that the PRM system essentially provides the ability for information, such as hospitalization records, lab results and blood glucose readings, to "talk" to each other, allowing DMU nurse tele-carers to continue monitoring patients after they are discharged from the hospital.

Seah explained: "We have different information about the patient but the patient's [continuous] well-being needs to be regarded as his [personal] journey, not the hospital's. The missing link was [having] a means for us to manage our patients from their perspective.

"So, like the CRM that banks use to track priority customers and their spending habits, this technology can allow us to extend healthcare to the patient's home," she added.

She added that for patients to benefit from the DMU program, they must already have information stored within the hospital to allow tele-carers to immediately cull information from the PRM when patients call. This will enable the caretakers to provide timely and appropriate support, she said.

Only about 400 patients from CGH were enrolled in the pilot phase of the new program, but the hospital aims to enroll 2,000 more this year, Seah said. The hospital mooted the idea of the PRM system three years ago and developed it with IHIS, which is the IT arm of the Ministry of Health (MOH).

To provide better usability, Chong noted that while the hospital has different registration systems, these are all integrated and information is updated real-time.

"With the rich depository of data, we'll be able to do more business analytics, obtain trending data and have more evidence as to how effective healthcare can actually be improved so the patient actually benefits," she explained. "The immediate benefits [provided by the PRM] are system alerts [to notify] nurses to contact patients who miss appointments, and the ability to present end-to-end medical history."

According to Seah, the PRM cost S$700,000 (US$538,000) to build, aided by medical grants from the MOH.

While it is scalable, she said the system would likely require other enhancements when it is eventually rolled out to other parts of the country over the next couple of years.

She added that the PRM includes information and contact management tools that help tele-carers identify patients who need to be contacted for follow-ups, as well as the language patients prefer to communicate with, among other details.

Seah said: "In the future, we hope to build business intelligence because once you have the info and transactional records, you can start to cull [data to build] what's likely to be the best protocol for the patient."

With mobile devices increasingly popular, she said CGH is also looking at producing a wireless kit that will allow patients information to be sent directly to the hospital from their homes, bypassing the need for them to call or visit doctors and allowing the DMU to monitor patients' condition real-time. The home assessment kit will be given to patients when they are discharged, she added.

Alongside the DMU launch today, Community Health Centers, which provide diabetic eye and foot screening, were also opened.

Editorial standards