Singapore, 7 October 2022 - The call to future proof healthcare could not have come at a better time as Singapore emerges from the pandemic.
Staring in our faces, first and foremost, is Singapore’s rapidly greying population. Not only do we now have more citizens aged 65 and older1 who are at higher risk of developing serious diseases, the prevalence of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, higher body mass index and overall lower physical activity2 is also rising.
Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health, outlined key policy shifts that the Singapore healthcare sector will be embarking on as Healthier SG is rolled out to address these challenges in his keynote lecture: “At the cusp of change: Transforming care for better population health and sustainability” at this year’s Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM).
Additionally, Singapore also needs to brace itself for the next pandemic as COVID-19 has exerted a huge challenge on the local healthcare system. The two-day ASM, titled “Call to Action: Future Proof Healthcare”, will include presentations and discussions on COVID-19 related topics amongst many others, for healthcare professionals across SGH Campus to learn and foster collaboration that best address the needs of our population.
“We cannot do better, much less future proof healthcare, by simply doing more of the same. So we hope this year’s ASM will inspire attendees from different fields and disciplines to cast their vision for the future and transform healthcare through engaged care, effective research, and enlightened education in partnership with empowered patients,” said Associate Professor Sophia Chew, Organising Chairperson of this year’s ASM and Senior Consultant, Department of Anaesthesiology, SGH.
The Guest-of-Honour was Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Janil Puthucheary. He delivered the Opening Address on Friday, 7 October 2022, 8am at The Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium at Academia on SGH Campus.
SGH Annual Scientific Meeting
ASM 2022 has attracted over 220 abstract submissions from SGH and across the Campus for the 15 different award categories.
Some of the noteworthy abstracts included:
- Cutting MRI scan time for brain diseases
An MRI scan for cerebrovascular diseases like brain aneurysm which takes about 50 minutes is now cut to 20 minutes, benefitting patients who are anxious or unable to keep still during the scan. By incorporating Compressed Sensing (CS) MR technique into its current imaging protocol, a team of SGH radiologists and radiographers were able to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to reconstruct images that were of comparable quality as those produced using conventional methods despite a shorter scan time. This approach may be applicable for other patients and in turn, reduce the turnaround time for MRI scans in future.
- AI tool listens to pee for possible health issues
An artificial intelligence (AI) tool developed by the Department of Urology at SGH and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) can listen to patients pass urine and efficiently identify abnormal flows, which may indicate health issues such as benign prostatic hypertrophy, an extremely common condition in men. The tool called Audioflow has shown promising results and performed nearly as well as tests done in clinics, according to results from a study involving over 530 male subjects. The team hopes to develop a smartphone app so that patients can monitor themselves.
- Say bye to stoma bag with new surgical approaches
Combining novel surgical approaches, the SGH Department of Colorectal Surgery has helped low rectal cancer patients avoid the need for a stoma bag to collect faecal matter through an opening in the abdomen. Transanal total mesorectal excision (TaTME) is a minimally invasive procedure where the cancer is removed through the anus without damaging the surrounding organs and muscles that control bowel movements. The colon is then attached to the anus a week later in a short procedure called a delayed coloanal anastomosis (CAA), minimising the risk of leakage which may occur if the joining is done immediately after tumour removal.
- Plant-based treatment for leukaemia patients
Up to 60 per cent of patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, may relapse on current treatment options. Using a high throughput drug screening platform, researchers identified a plant-derived natural compound with efficacy against AML in the lab. Researchers found that arctigenin, a compound from the seeds of the edible Greater Burdock, has a potency comparable to standard of care treatment when tested on bone marrow cells of AML patients. Arctigenin at the same concentration was also shown to be less toxic in normal bone marrow samples.
- Forecasting emergency department patient load with predictive model
Predicting attendances and patients’ length of stay in an emergency department (ED) is often challenging, especially during pandemic where sudden surges can be expected. This invariably leads to difficulties in ensuring that the ED remains adequately resourced at all times. A team led by the Department of Emergency Medicine at SGH and SingHealth’s Health Services Research Centre, has built a predictive model using the Hospital’s ED data to forecast and estimate the resources required. It will also allow decision makers to experiment with various scenarios to identify the best strategies in dealing with emergent threats confronting the ED.
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