The Ministry of Health (MOH) will be testing a computer programme which studies patient data and how hospitals allocate their resources next year.
Researchers may tap the data collected from public health-care institutions and other health organisations in the course of their work to predict trends in the treatment of patients.
"As we step up efforts in data analytics, we can uncover answers to questions such as 'Who are those in need of help?', 'Who are at risk?', 'How can we improve clinical care delivery?' and 'How can we provide sustainable and cost-effective health care?'," said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at a conference on health-care informatics yesterday.
The software being considered by MOH may link up data sources from public hospitals and other health-care organisations to form a sizeable pool of information.
It will contain advanced statistical capabilities to churn out trends and charts from these figures. For instance, researchers may use it to see if patients who are readmitted to hospitals frequently come from a certain area. Health-care institutions may then deploy more home-care resources there to save hospital beds.
Data would be kept anonymous to protect patients' privacy, said Mr Gan.
MOH will start a series of pilot programmes next year to test components of the analytics software and the IT system that supports it.
Some health-care institutions already use data analytics to help them allocate finite resources.
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), for example, used it to tackle an ongoing bed crunch by mining the data for patients who had been admitted more than three times in six months.
Although these individuals made up fewer than 2 per cent of patients, they took up a larger proportion of beds because of their frequent admissions.
KTPH then instituted its Ageing-In-Place Programme, sending nurses out to patients' homes to ensure that they took their medicine on time or kept to healthy diets for quicker recovery.
This slashed re-admission rates and KTPH recovered about 30 beds in six months for other patients.
A centralised platform offers even more potential, said Associate Professor Danny Poo from the Centre of Health Informatics.
"The software may link up data from a number of public hospitals so there is a bigger statistical pool to work with," he said. "Trends may be more representative if we want to uncover national health-care trends."
This article was first published on July 24, 2014.
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