Singapore bill to require healthcare providers to contribute to national EHR system

Singapore's Ministry of Health plans to introduce a bill next year that would require all healthcare providers in the country — including private clinics and laboratories — to contribute to its national electronic health record system, ZDNet reports.

The Ministry of Health launched the national electronic health record, or NEHR, in 2011 under the mantra "one patient, one health record." It serves as a central repository for clinical summary records, which providers can use to access, store and exchange patient information.

Although NEHR was launched as a voluntary program, the Ministry of Health encouraged providers to participate. However, research estimates note only 3 percent of the 4,000-plus healthcare providers in Singapore contribute to the NEHR, according to ZDNet.

Under the healthcare services bill, licensed healthcare providers would be required to participate in the NEHR. The bill would likely set aside a two- or three-year period to allow providers to prepare to participate in the national database, which would include government-led technical workshops, online resources and grant funding.

"This will not be an easy journey," said Bruce Liang, CIO of the Ministry of Health and CEO of the ministry's Integrated Health Information Systems agency, according to ZDNet. "The state of IT adoption is uneven across the [more than] 4,000 … healthcare institutions in Singapore and there is a large number of IT solution providers with wide variation of offerings."

However, officials believe the benefits will outweigh the costs, according to ZDNet.

"Patients can only realise the full potential of the NEHR if the data is comprehensive," said Singapore's Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong. "And for NEHR data to be comprehensive, every provider and healthcare professional needs to contribute relevant data to it."

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