SINGAPORE (Mar 19): Nearly 20 years ago, Dr Eugene Loke and a few classmates from medical school began tinkering with a web-based personal health record system that put patients in charge of their information. “We wanted to empower patients,” Loke says of their early efforts. The system was adopted by a local public hospital and later acquired by a medical IT company. Loke spent five years with the company, novaSPRINT, designing electronic medical record systems for hospitals.

Today, Loke has left his IT endeavours behind and is a practising family physician at a private clinic in Serangoon Gardens. But he is not done with electronic health record systems just yet. Under the new Healthcare Services Act, scheduled to be enacted in phases beginning in the second half of this year, all licensed healthcare services providers are required to contribute to the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR). The new regulation will also cover traditional medicine practitioners, nurses and allied health services providers such as physiotherapists, dieticians and medical social workers.

General practitioners that The Edge Singapore spoke to are largely sceptical of the system, particularly on the issue of data privacy. Loke says dialogue sessions at which ministry representatives met doctors to discuss the NEHR were rather heated. Nonetheless, he says he is impressed with the ministry’s efforts to engage with healthcare professionals.

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