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Commentary: The future of healthcare in Singapore looks like a hospital without walls

SINGAPORE: Anyone who’s had to deal with medical visits will tell you how long and frustrating the wait can feel – from triage in the Emergency Department or follow-up appointments, to routine screening or test results at the outpatient clinic.

Why not take the wait out of hospitals and into the comfort of our homes or in a clinic closer to home? We already have the tools for remote monitoring of patient vital signs and telemedicine to provide care and advice.

Patients who need chronic care, such as for diabetes or ongoing heart issues, can have a healthcare professional regularly checking in on their blood pressure virtually. Those who are recovering from hospital care can be discharged to recuperate at home while staying under the watchful eye of professionals via wearable sensors that measure heart rates or blood pressure.

The COVID-19 pandemic ultimately proved to patients, medical professionals and society at large that there are other options than face-to-face consultations, and in fact that the efficiencies of digital and remote care offer a healthy alternative to the status quo.

But even if the crisis forced us to adopt telemedicine, it’s a poor way to optimise it for the future. The healthcare system will have to adapt if a hospital without walls is the care of the future.

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