Singapore’s national AI strategy to focus on chronic disease management and prevention

In the next three years, Selena+, a system which analyzes retinal photographs across the nation for diabetes screening will be deployed.
By Dean Koh
01:51 AM

Above: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat announcing the National AI Strategy at the the SFF X SWITCH (SingaporeFinTech Festival and Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology) Conference. Credit: SFF

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat, today announced at the SFF X SWITCH (SingaporeFinTech Festival and Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology) Conference, a national Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy to transform Singapore’s economy and improve the lives of citizens.

The key approach of the strategy is to adopt a human-centric approach, and focus on delivering tangible benefits to citizens and businesses through AI. Five national AI projects have been identified for a start:

  • Transport and Logistics: Intelligent Freight Planning
  • Smart Cities and Estates: Seamless and Efficient Municipal Services
  • Healthcare: Chronic Disease Prediction and Management
  • Education: Personalized Education Through Adaptive Learning and Assessment
  • Safety and Security: Border Clearance Operations

Drilling specifically into healthcare, the emphasis of the national AI strategy will be on chronic disease management and prevention. Below are some key timelines and targets:

By 2022, the Singapore Eye Lesion Analyzer, Selena+, a system which analyzes retinal photographs across the nation for diabetes screening will be deployed. 

By 2025, a retina-based risk score for high glucose, high blood pressure and high cholesterol (3H) related cardiovascular diseases will be developed.

By 2030, there will be collaboration with industry players to develop AI models for 3H patients.

Other than the development of a personalized risk score for chronic diseases, other objectives under the national AI strategy for healthcare include clinical decision support for primary care doctors and empowering patients to better manage their own diseases. 

Prior to the announcement of the national AI strategy, there have been AI-related developments at SingHealth, one of Singapore’s largest public healthcare groups and the National University Health System (NUHS). Since April this year, SingHealth has been working with Ping An Smart Healthcare (PASH), a subsidiary of the Ping An Group (Ping An) in China, to trial the use of its clinical decision support systems (CDSS) named AskBob, to provide doctors with personalized treatment recommendations for Type 2 diabetes patients at the point of care.

NUHS is also working with PASH to trial AskBob with clinicians for smart literature search and medical research trend analysis.