Physician viewpoint: America can learn from EHR interoperability in Singapore

EHR interoperability and data sharing among health systems in Singapore can serve as an effective example for America's health industry to consider, pediatrician Aaron Carroll, MD, wrote in the New York Times.

After experiencing a lack of actual emergencies for nearly half of 60,000 ambulance calls in 1997, Singapore implemented changes to the country's EMS protocol, according to the report. Lawmakers passed regulations that required an individual to pay the equivalent of $185 USD for every ambulance call made that did not constitute EMS. Ambulance services in the country are free.   

Dr. Carroll, a pediatrics professor at Indianapolis-based Indiana University School of Medicine, said Singapore's regulations, along with the country's open EHR data sharing method, allows for a more streamlined healthcare delivery approach.

"The [EHRs] are all connected, and data are shared between them," Dr. Marcus Ong, Singapore's EMS director, told the New York Times. "When patients are attended to for an emergency, records can be quickly accessed, and many nonemergencies can be then cleared with accurate information."

After introducing the new regulations, Singapore officials provided public education and messaging for citizens to eliminate any fear associated with calling for actual medical emergencies, Dr. Carroll wrote. By 2010, Singapore EMS received more than 120,000 ambulance calls, which "very few," were for nonemergencies, Dr. Ong said.

To access the full report, click here.

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