Parliament, 12 March 2014
Telehealth is a mode of healthcare delivery that uses technology to enable the remote diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education and care management of patients. It includes the use of home monitoring of chronic diseases, remote consultations between patients and providers, and videoconferencing between doctors in different hospitals.
Telehealth has the potential to reduce healthcare costs, increase the level of convenience for patients, and improve patient outcomes.
One key barrier to a greater adoption of telehealth is the absence of an agreed-upon reimbursement model. If doctors cannot get paid for telehealth consultations, they are more likely ask patients to come to the clinic for a face-to-face consultation. Similarly, if patients cannot use their Medisave or receive subsidies to pay for telehealth consultations, they would be more likely to choose to make the trip down to the clinic.
Given the cost savings, improved outcomes and improved patient satisfaction that telehealth has the potential to bring, the Ministry should look into ways to increase its adoption in Singapore.
These include providing the infrastructure and support to healthcare providers and patients in acquiring telehealth technologies, reforming reimbursement models for telehealth, and revising any legislation that unduly inhibits telehealth adoption.