, Singapore

Clarification on Singapore’s policy vs healthcare malpractices needed: study

It is unclear who bears legal accountability for negligence in virtual health.

More clarification and guidelines are necessary when implementing virtual healthcare in Singapore due to liability issues, according to a 2022 study of the Broadband Commission Working Group on Virtual Health and Care. 

In its deep dive on Singapore’s virtual health and care adoption, the study indicated that inclusive legislation could aid the telehealth sector to “define long-term strategic vision, regulatory checks and make adoption scalable.”

The study also raised liability problems as it is unclear who will take the legal responsibility in cases of malpractice or negligence when enforcing virtual health and care. 

It noted that under the National Telemedicine Guidelines in 2015, senior management in organisations is liable for telemedicine services including the supervision of all persons directly responsible for development, coordination, and operation.”

Overall, the Singapore government managed to promote virtual health and care adoption through several policy rules before and during the global health crisis.

In fact, telemedicine consultations at six public health institutions went up by 18 times from 2,000 patients in 2017 until early 2020 to almost 36,000 patients between early 2020 and January last year.

The Working Group is co-chaired by World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Ann Aerts, head of the Novartis Foundation. The 2022 report looked into the digital health landscape after the pandemic hit 23 nations, including Singapore.

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