‘Serving with heart’: two glimpses of innovation in Singapore and Thailand

Probably a first for this Editor is news from Singapore on the healthcare technology and innovation front. The first report comes from Today where Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean advocates for the interesting combination of embracing innovation and ‘serving patients with heart.’ Speaking at the opening of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine’s Clinical Sciences Building in Novena, Mr. Teo talked not only about pathogens and biomedical research but also about remote patient monitoring, tele-consulting, and home-care robots.

From Thailand but addressing the Asia-Pacific market is Caroline Clarke, CEO for Philips Asean Pacific, on the region’s aging population and the outlook to 2050. Asia is home to 60 percent of the world’s over-60 population which is expected to grow from 547 million in 2016 to nearly 1.3 billion by 2050. She noted that the Future Health Index noted that while the benefits of connected care technologies were known in Asia, there was a lack of understanding on how and why to use them to take better care of their health. Philips has opened a regional headquarters in Singapore with advanced innovation facilities, announcing a partnership with EDBI to co-invest in regional digital health companies. The Nation

A New Year’s Resolution, ADLs and a new care option

Here are three items that are each important and have hit my screen in the past couple of days – sadly, try as I may, I’m struggling with a common linking theme.

The first, that the 3G Doctor alerted me to, is a simply brilliant talk by Telcare‘s CEO Dr Jonathan Javitt at the Technion Social-Mobile-Cloud Meets Medicine Conference on the 17th December 2013. We’ve all made the arguments that technology enables the genuinely continuing care that long term conditions require, rather than the episodic care our health service is set up to provide, and that technology ensures that patients have clinical support 24/7 rather than in the brief period the doctor or nurse sees them.  However Dr Javitt brings all the arguments together to make such a powerful case that the only sensible way to treat long term conditions is to use technology to help the patient that anyone opposing it might as well try to argue that the earth is flat. As a result I have decided that my New Year’s resolution this year will be no longer to rise to the challenges of the naysayers. (I wonder how long I can keep it.)

The second item is a new take on monitoring activities of daily living (ADLs). For those new into telecare, continuous ADL monitoring looks a brilliant way of picking up an early decline in cognitive or physical decline, often well before symptoms show up in a change of vital signs or response to questions. The challenge though is whether the computer analysing the ADLs is smart enough to cope with activities such as the invasion of the grandchildren, or can cope with multiple occupancy. So it’ll be interesting to see how well CarePredict’s service is received. This uses a bracelet to track someone being cared for, rather than relying on PIRs or similar sensors as many other ADL systems do. Of course, like falls detectors, the problem with wearables is that people take them off, although the mHealth News item claims that ‘seniors’ like the bracelets.

The third item is a BBC item on the attractions of care homes in countries where the cost of living is lower, such as Thailand, which does feel a tad mercenary, although where there is genuine reverence for older people the quality of care can be excellent, and recent revelations suggest that care for older people in the UK is hardly without its problems. A combination of Skype and cheap flights certainly means that it is possible to keep in touch regularly. If it gets to be considered a viable option, it will certainly complicate the economics of technology to stay at home vs care home.

Hat tip to Prof Mike Short for alerting me to the BBC item.

Thai mHealth program to transform the health system

The application, Saraphi Health, and the mhealth project of which it is a critical element, receives funding from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation. The purpose is to be able to build a digital archive to be used by the managers and developers of public healthcare policy. The aim is to improve the efficiency of dealing with urgent health situations. Mhealth program in Thailand uses app to collect medical data. MobileCommerceNews.