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Leveraging Medical Technologies to Monitor Health of Foreign Workers More Effectively

  1. The Inter-agency Task Force (ITF) had announced that it will focus on three phases to ensure the health and well-being of workers residing in dormitories. 
  2. In the first phase, safe distancing measures were implemented in dormitories. Workers in essential services were relocated so as to reduce the density and thus the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the dormitories. They were also progressively tested so they could continue working safely. 
  3. In the second phase, a medical support plan, with the necessary infrastructure and personnel, was put in place. Public and private healthcare partners have come together to deliver a layered medical support plan, to ensure access to good and timely medical care in dormitories. These include the availability of:
    • On-site/proximate medical posts and mobile medical teams;
    • Mobile nursing teams supported by telemedicine doctors;
    • Teleconsultation services with doctors through tele-kiosks and mobile phones;
    • Matching of nearby Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC) clinics to dormitories;
    • Emergency ambulances where necessary
    In April 2020, about 40,000 consultations took place through this layered medical support plan. 
  4. The third phase is the recovery phase. We are working out ways to allow recovered workers to resume work safely. At the same time, we are developing new strategies and ways to monitor the health of our workers effectively.

    LEVERAGING THE USE OF MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES

  5. We are leveraging technology as an enabler for more effective medical monitoring of our workers. This will also ensure quicker response times for medical attention. Telemedicine complements the coverage of the on-site/proximate and mobile medical teams during non-office hours and allows for prompt medical assistance for workers who are unwell. This is made possible through several avenues:
    1. Teleconsultations through personal mobile devices

      Doctor-led video consultation services supplements on-site/proximate and mobile medical support by providing care after hours. The service is accessible to all workers in dormitories through their personal mobile phones. Consultations are provided by private healthcare providers listed in the Ministry of Health (MOH) Regulatory Sandbox. Medication will be delivered to the workers if necessary. Approximately 400 video consultations between workers and doctors have been conducted to date since the service started on 25 April 2020.

    2. Tele-kiosks

      Eight tele-kiosks have been installed in dormitories, with more kiosks to be introduced progressively. These kiosks facilitate video consultations with doctors and are connected to devices which can monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, oxygen saturation and temperature. The kiosks provide additional quick support for workers with COVID-19 infection and ensure that they have round-the-clock access to a doctor. Medication will be delivered to the workers if necessary.

    3. Pulse Oximeters
      Pulse oximeters are used to monitor oxygen levels of individuals with COVID-19 infection and helps to detect early signs of deterioration in health. About 8,000 pulse oximeters have been distributed to workers with COVID-19 infection who are residing in dormitories. The provision of pulse oximeters allows workers to proactively monitor their own health status and reach out for medical assistance if needed.
  6. The ITF is committed to providing comprehensive support to our foreign workers. We will continue to ramp up strategies for a more sustainable medical support operation, to ensure their well-being.