TechInnovation Recap: What The Pandemic Teaches Us On The Future Of Healthcare

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The 10th edition of TechInnovation presented an array of opportunities to catalyse technology transfer and partnerships for business growth.

TechInnovation 2021, IPI’s flagship technology matching event, was held as a fully digital event that ran for 24 hours a day from 28 to 30 September 2021. It brought together international technology providers and enterprises to accelerate the commercialisation of emerging technologies, seed licensing opportunities, and to also foster open innovation collaborations.

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This year, more than 160 exhibitors including 11 national innovation agencies and technology consortia, and more than 2,000 participants from across the world participated in the event. Over 400 technologies from 20 countries were showcased as well, at TechInnovation 2021.

The theme of TechInnovation 2021 is “A Sustainable and Resilient Future.” Over 50 leading industry thought leaders in technology and design-led innovation were invited to speak. One of the key speakers in the TechInnovation 2021 was Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, Chief Health Scientist, Ministry of Health, Singapore, and Executive Director, MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation.

Professor Tan delivered the opening remarks for the last day at TechInnovation where he spoke of the future of healthcare and what that meant in the post-pandemic era. He said how the past year has been a tough time for frontline healthcare and it is ever more important to have new innovations to empower the healthcare ecosystem.

With the context that Singapore has a high-vaccinated rate which is above 80 percent and also considering that the country has begun the booster-shot programme. Hence, Professor Tan mentioned that Singapore has certainly been a Covid-resilient country, learning and adjusting along the way according to the severity of the situation.

Professor Tan highlighted three important takeaways:

1. Healthcare ecosystems to be well-integrated

A well-integrated healthcare ecosystem refers to localities where different parts of the healthcare and response systems have been able to work in a well-coordinated manner.
Through this, Singapore would be able to achieve much more effective covid-19 pandemic control, tackle the challenges associated with population aging and non-communicable diseases like diabetes.

2. Our ability to work with individuals and communities to sustain healthy behaviour change is at the heart of transforming healthcare and health outcomes.

It is true for covid-19 and it is also true for lifestyle-related chronic diseases like diabetes and
heart diseases. Data and digital technologies have a key role to play in both of these challenges.

3. The covid-19 pandemic showed that we can greatly accelerate research and translation to meet urgent health needs.

In Singapore, the healthcare system, public and private sectors, scientists, and innovators work very closely together which made tech companies fast-track product development and
manufacturing. As a result, locally-developed innovations such as diagnostic kits became available in record time. The public and private sectors also joined hands to make use of digital technologies to contain the epidemic spread. The widespread deployment of digital technologies like TraceTogether and SafeEntry more than halved the time needed for contact tracing.

In his concluding statements, Professor Tan mentions that even before the covid-19 pandemic, Singapore had already been working on strengthening and transforming our ecosystem. Professor Tan continues, “Our goal is to maintain and to improve health outcomes while managing costs even as our population ages and lifestyle-related chronic diseases increase, the innovation office which I lead, the MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation is focusing on several of these key areas.”

Professor Tan adds, “A major priority to Singapore’s health transformation is to re-double our efforts to promote health and prevent disease at the population level. To do so, we need innovations that effectively empower individuals and patients to take charge of their own health, and for care teams to better support this shift. We also have to strengthen primary care and health and social services in the community and make sure they are well integrated with the rest of the health system. In this regard, data analytics and management, AI, and digital technologies will play a key role. In particular, wearable and sensors have gained significant traction with the availability of technology such as militarisation and AI Wearable and health tech sensors no have expanded functionalities for different health applications in more diverse population segments.”

Lastly, Professor Tan ends by stating, “Each crisis brings several challenges, but each crisis also brings forward exciting opportunities. As we start the transition into the new normal, it is ever more important for our enterprises to collaborate, innovate and seize these new opportunities. The tech-innovation platform is an excellent way to network and explore the possibilities that technology has to offer.”

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Featured photo: Tracetogether Safe Entry counter at Tampines One mall in Singapore. Photo credit: ZKang123, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 

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