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Singapore’s new health information bill allows patient data control

The Health Information Bill introduces measures for patient data sharing and protection.

Singapore's Ministry of Health has introduced the Health Information Bill (HIB) to streamline patient data sharing through the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR), utilising technology for enhanced healthcare while emphasising the importance of legal compliance and adaptability. 

Zhen Guang Lam, Senior Associate at Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore, explained that under the HIB, any individual treated by an authorised healthcare professional in Singapore will have a record in the NEHR. 

"A patient may opt to restrict healthcare professionals from accessing their health record, with exceptions in medical emergencies," Lam said. This new provision puts significant control in the hands of patients, allowing them to manage who has access to their personal health information.

For healthcare professionals, the bill mandates the contribution of selected key health information to the NEHR. "Key health information includes patient demographics, medical diagnoses, allergies, and medications," he said.

Additionally, while authorised healthcare professionals have access to the NEHR, non-authorized professionals may be granted limited access as needed to provide patient care. The bill prohibits the use of NEHR data for non-healthcare purposes, such as employment suitability or insurance eligibility assessments.

Regarding sensitive health information, Lam emphasised the bill's protective measures. "Sensitive health information, which could lead to stigmatisation or discrimination, is subject to additional requirements like administrative access controls and mandatory incident reporting," he stated. 

He clarified that this information will not be displayed on Health Hub, Singapore's national digital healthcare platform, to maintain security and prevent inadvertent leaks.

Lam views the HIB as a strategic move by Singapore to meet increasing medical demands using technology. "By establishing a central repository for patient health records, the bill holds immense potential to revolutionise healthcare delivery," he asserted. 

Lam mentioned that the bill aims to enhance efficiency and coordination among healthcare professionals while giving patients greater control over their health data. It facilitates seamless information exchange, leading to more accurate diagnoses, timely interventions, and improved patient outcomes.

"The seamless exchange of information across the healthcare ecosystem can lead to more accurate diagnosis, timely interventions, and ultimately, better patient outcomes," Lam concluded.

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