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Inaugural FutureHealth off to a strong start 

Published on: 08-Nov-2017

More than 400 local and international healthcare and technology experts gathered at LKCMedicine's Clinical Sciences Building today for the inaugural FutureHealth 2017 conference, which kicked off with a day full of highlights presided over by Guest-of-Honour Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong.

Jointly organised by LKCM edicine, Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI) and NTU Institute for Health Technologies (HealthTech NTU), the three-day conference tackles the pertinent topic of Innovations Transforming Healthcare through interconnected tracks on workforce transformation and medical technologies.

Starting as the conference intends to go on, the first keynote speaker was Nobel laureate and LKCMedicine Nanyang Visiting Professor Barry Marshall, who shared his personal journey of translating innovation from the lab into patient care in the face of widespread scepticism and a multi-million industry.

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L-R: More than 400 local and international healthcare and technology experts gathered for the inaugural FutureHealth 2017 conference; Nobel laureate and LKCMedicine Nanyang Visiting Professor Barry Marshall, who shared his personal journey of translating innovation from the lab into patient care in the face of widespread scepticism and a multi-million industry

Prof Marshall's session led to a brief conference break when participants then headed to tea while they engaged poster presenters and industry partners manning their booths at Level 8 of the CSB.  Following the short break, participants and invited guests returned to the Auditorium, joined by the Guest-of-Honour to mark the official opening of the conference. Welcoming the Minister and audience to the event, the three organisers took to the stage to give a short welcome.

LKCMedicine Executive Vice-Dean and conference co-chair Professor Lionel Lee welcomed guests to Singapore's newest medical school and its only recently opened Clinical Sciences Building. Moving on to the conference, which is the first international conference to be co-organised and hosted by LKCMedicine, he said, "FutureHealth 2017 will explore the potential success of healthcare delivery by way of a unique combination of the opportunities  for health workforce transformation alongside the opportunities afforded by new discoveries in medical management and solutions including what modern day and future technology can offer."

He was followed by his fellow co-chair and CHI CEO Mr David Dhevarajulu, who shared some early milestones achieved by the new centre that are shaping transformation of healthcare and looked ahead to the second day of the conference which focuses on how we work. He said, "One other key segment of our conference programme is learning from other industries. To change our mental model of care we do need to look beyond our paradigms."

Representing HealthTech NTU, its Executive Director Professor Russell Gruen reflected on the potential of technological innovations to transform how we deliver healthcare. He highlighted that meaningful healthcare transformation requires both new technologies and new ways of doing things.

"At a time when healthcare everywhere faces profound challenges and substantial pressures to innovate, this high potential partnership between CHI, LKCMedicine and HealthTech NTU is very much needed. We are serious, capable and different and we come together to embrace the challenge of transforming healthcare and of ensuring Singapore's future health," said Prof Gruen.

After the warm welcome, Minister for Health Mr Gan took to the stage to deliver his opening address. To help Singaporeans enjoy good health and quality healthcare amidst the many healthcare challenges faced, including higher chronic diseases and rising public expectations, Mr Gan said the healthcare sector is embarking on three key shifts – beyond healthcare to health, beyond hospital to community and beyond quality to value.

He continued that to bring all these changes about, everyone – patients, providers, researchers and innovators – need to come together "so that we can successfully make the three shifts and transform healthcare for the future. This conference is timely as it brings together all the important stakeholders in the pursuit of this important goal."

He went on to announce two key developments affecting the healthcare sector. The first is the extended and mandatory adoption of the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) system to improve data comprehensiveness for better patient care. Mr Gan said that plans are underway to introduce legislation next year. If approved, healthcare groups will be given a grace period of two to three years to make the necessary preparations. To support NEHR's implementation, a $20 million incentive scheme has been made available to private clinics and healthcare providers who are early adopters.

The second is a three-pronged healthcare industry transformation map. The three thrusts are: building a strong local core through job and skills development, enhancing productivity to enable healthcare workers to work smarter and catalysing innovation by working with our service providers, industry as well as educational and research institutions to develop tomorrow's solutions. Mr Gan concluded, "Only if we share the same vision for future health, can we lay a strong foundation for better skills and better work for our healthcare professionals, and deliver better care for Singaporeans."

Picking the theme of healthcare transformation, the second keynote address by Sir David Dalton, Chief Executive of the newly formed Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, Sir David touched on technology's ability to change how we work, allocate and manage resources before changing tack and sharing the process behind the newly formed alliance. Similar to Singapore's re-clustering into three regional healthcare systems, he outlined the journey how a new governance model allowed one umbrella organisation to take on all stakeholders' responsibilities, thereby removing the boundaries between care domains where patients often get stuck or fall through the cracks. This allowed them to create personalised care packages that are delivered right in the community.

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L-R: Guest-of-Honour Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong officially opened the conference with his opening address;  Sir David Dalton, Chief Executive of  Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, touched on technology's ability to change how we work, allocate and manage resources before changing tack and sharing the process behind the newly formed alliance

After a short lunch break, the audience reconvened for a 'fireside' chat chaired by Prof Gruen and Dr Loh Yong Joo, Consultant with the Department of Rehabilitative Medicine at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Quizzing two clinician-engineer couples, the panel explored the secrets behind their successful partnerships. In both couples, the clinician was driven by a desire to improve the outcomes of prostate and gastro-intestinal cancer surgery. Teaming up with engineers, they delivered innovations in medical robotics that make procedures safer and shorten recovery time by eliminating the need for invasive surgery.

Joining the panel as a self-described 'lamp post' A*STAR Exploit Technologies Chief Executive Mr Philip Lim highlighted that one of the biggest roadblocks is coming up with problem statements that can effectively be addressed.

Having learnt some of the secrets that underpin successful partnerships, the next part looked at the Fruits of Matrimony. Chaired by National Healthcare Group Deputy Group CEO (Education & Research) Professor Lim Tock Han, the session saw the three winners of the newly launched Open Innovation Challenge present their projects. They were joined by some of their mentors in a panel discussion, before handing the stage to NTU School of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering Professor Teoh Swee Hin and his collaborator, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital Orthopaedic & Trauma Senior Consultant Surgeon Dr Sultan al-Maskari.

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​L-R: Participants had the chance to engage with poster presenters and industry partners at the conference; Chaired by National Healthcare Group Deputy Group CEO (Education & Research) Professor Lim Tock Han, the session titled "Fruits of Matrimony" saw winners of the newly launched Open Innovation Challenge present their projects

Taking turns, Prof Teoh kicked off this segment, sharing several incidents where surgeons reached out to him for engineering solutions to specific clinical problems they faced in bone regeneration. Dr al-Maskari then picked up the story, sharing similar cases from the surgeon's technique, which eventually brought the two together to collaborate.

Following their presentation and a short tea break, it was time for the final plenary of the day on what makes marriages great, and would the same rules apply to the union of healthcare and technology? Drawing a large crowd, Integrated Health Information Systems CEO Mr Bruce Liang shared his perspectives on what the critical ingredients of a great 'Health IT' marriage are, and discuss examples where such 'marriages' have worked well.He offered thoughts on what more can be done by both parties to strengthen the 'marriage' over time.

Summing up the many exciting highlights of the inaugural FutureHealth's first day, Prof Gruen brought the programme to a close. Over the next two days, speakers will continue to explore the two interconnect tracks on workforce transformation and future health technologies in greater depth.


 

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