News: Envisioning a brave new world of healthcare

The 19th Singapore Health and Biomedical Congress (SHBC) 2021, organised by the National Healthcare Group (NHG), kicked off on 7 October.

With the theme “Brave New World of Healthcare”, the virtual congress placed emphasis on the paradigm shift in healthcare delivery over the past year – leveraging technology and exploring innovative approaches through telemedicine, remote monitoring and other technology-enabled services.

Over two months, renowned local and overseas experts shared their in-depth expertise and knowledge through plenary and panel discussions in five key areas: Brave New World of Healthcare; What We Learnt from COVID-19?; Education; Stratifying Healthcare; and Innovation in Clinical Care. In addition, the SHBC Learning Series was broadcasted every Friday from end October and will continue to run until February 2022.

On 29 October, LKCMedicine Dean Professor Joseph Sung spoke at the plenary session titled “Precision Medicine in 2021: Opportunities and Challenges”. He touched on the three levels that technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), big data and precision medicine, will impact healthcare: clinician, health system and patient.

Prof Sung shared that at the clinician level, technology could enable clinicians to make quicker and more accurate diagnosis while at the healthcare level, it can help predict who is going to develop diseases and outcomes of medical treatments. He added that this will have a huge impact on the choice of treatment for individual patients and on how the healthcare system should allocate its resources.

At the patient level, he highlighted that with the growing use of digital health devices and related apps, the problem is not about the generation of health data but how to interpret and make sense of it.

Commenting on this phenomenon, he said, “This is going to create a very dramatic change in the landscape of the healthcare system. That is, from a patient going to see individual doctors for symptoms that they develop to someone who uses devices like these to monitor their own health and to seek healthcare only when it is necessary.”

On the flipside, Prof Sung highlighted the challenges of using technology such as how much we can trust machines and data to make life and death decisions, data security and data privacy, as well as legal responsibilities when it comes to AI-assisted physicians.

In closing, he said, “The future is not just about digitisation and democratisation. We should have deep phenotyping, we should be assisted by machines with deep learning but we should also have deep empathy. This is the time to emphasise on the humanity side of medicine and connecting our patients with clinicians and using our knowledge and our data to assist us, but not to dictate, what we should do with our patients.” 

Prof Sung then joined other panellists including LKCMedicine Professor of Cardiovascular Epidemiology John Chambers for a panel discussion on “Stratifying Patients for Better Outcomes”. The experts provided insights on three key aspects: the science of precision medicine, what it means to the patients, and what it means to health systems.

On the changes in precision medicine over the last decade, Prof Chambers said, “Now we suddenly have a whole new range of modalities and tools to generate data that may help us refine what is the patient’s prognosis, diagnosis or best treatment.”

“Having generated these tremendous data sets, it’s about how we interpret those. To get the maximum value out of it, is beyond what a clinician can achieve. It’s going to require sophisticated approaches to data integration and analysis so that we maximise the dividends from the rich data sources,” he added.

 LKCMedicine’s staff and faculty also shared their expertise in the following sessions.

  • Professor Jennifer Cleland, President’s Chair in Medical Education and LKCMedicine Vice-Dean (Education), on Learning from Disruption in Medical Education – Turning a Crisis into an Opportunity: COVID-19 and Medical Education
  • Associate Professor Konstadina Griva, LKCMedicine A/Prof, Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine; President of Society Behavioural Health Singapore, on Communicating a Pandemic in the Age of Social Media – Understanding Drivers of COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in the Singapore Population: Socrates Cohort
  • Adjunct Associate Professor Koh Nien Yue, LKCMedicine Assistant Dean for Year 3; Senior Consultant, Department of General Medicine, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, on Learning from Disruption in Medical Education – Forging New Path: Learning of Clinical Skills in the Pandemic
  • Professor May Oo Lwin, LKCMedicine Professor; President’s Chair Professor, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, on Communicating a Pandemic in the Age of Social Media – COVID-19 Infodemic: Enabling Communication Science Enquires Through Social Media Analytics
  • Associate Professor David Lye, LKCMedicine A/Prof; Director, Infectious Disease Research and Training Office, National Centre for Infectious Diseases, on What We Learnt from COVID-19? – New Models of Partnership in a Post-COVID World (Moderator)
  • Dr Ng Kian Bee, LKCMedicine Head of Digital Learning; Co-Director, ALIVE, on Learning from Disruption in Medical Education – Using Digital Tools to Meet the Challenges of Medical Education
  • Associate Professor Tan Cher Heng, LKCMedicine Assistant Dean (Clinical Research); Assistant Chairman Medical Board (Clinical Research and Innovation); Senior Consultant, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, on Innovation in Clinical Care – Harnessing Digital Technology for Clinical Innovation (Moderator)
  • Dr Barnaby Young, NHG-LKCMedicine Clinician-Scientist fellow; Head, Infectious Disease Research Ward; Consultant, National Centre for Infectious Diseases, on How Science and Research Impacted Policy and Practice in the Pandemic – COVID-19 Variants and Vaccines: Clinical Findings from the Protect and Scope Studies

For more information on the broadcast schedule for the ongoing SHBC Learning Series, visit